Revolution #66, October 22, 2006
Declared Enemy Combatant, Then Brutalized in Military Prison
The Torture of Jose Padilla
Jose Padilla has now documented the torture that was inflicted on him during the 3 years and 8 months he was held in extreme isolation and interrogations in U.S. military prison.
Over 4 years ago, on May 8, 2002, Jose Padilla was seized and then made to “disappear” by federal agents as he arrived in Chicago’s O’Hare airport. George W. Bush declared Padilla an “enemy combatant.” Then-Attorney General Ashcroft announced in a press conference that Padilla had been plotting to use a “dirty bomb” on U.S. targets. No evidence was ever presented. Padilla, a Brooklyn-born U.S. citizen, was thrown in prison—and federal authorities denied him even the most basic rights to a lawyer, a hearing or a trial.
In a motion filed in federal court on October 6, 2006, Padilla describes how torture was used to break him down physically and mentally.
The following are some of the abuse reported in this legal document:
- Padilla reports he was kept in extreme isolation in a 9-by-7 cell for years—under camera observation with virtually no human contact other than brutal and threatening interrogators.
- Multiple methods were used to disorient him by cutting off all stimulation and sensation. The small window to the hallway was covered over. He was rarely allowed to exercise, and even then was often forced to do so in the darkness of night. He was deprived of a mirror, a watch, or a calendar. His cell was kept in complete darkness for long periods and then, at other times, filled with glaring light 24 hours a day. He was constantly told confusing information about where he was, and presented with false manufactured documents and charges.
- He was deliberately deprived of sleep, night after night, by loud noises—like the deliberate remote-controlled slamming of neighboring cell doors and the screaming of guards.
- Padilla describes being manacled in extremely painful stress positions for hours, often under a hood.
- He says he was repeatedly threatened with execution and with being cut by a knife. And he was threatened that he would be sent to a prison off-shore where more terrible things would happen to him.
- Padilla reports that he was given drugs against his will during interrogations, including powerful mind-altering substances that (he believes) were forms of LSD and PCP. His motion says he may have suffered serious physical harm to his heart from the combination of stress and the forced application of such drugs.
- For 2 years he was denied access to a Koran and the right to exercise his Islamic religious beliefs.
All this is the kind of torture, and these are the kinds of torturers, that the U.S. President and the U.S. Congress have worked to legitimize and protect from prosecution.
The tortures and cruel treatment that Padilla describes are acts that have long been categorized as war crimes under both the U.S. War Crimes Act and the international treaties called the Geneva Conventions. And these are exactly the kinds of tortures and cruel treatments that the White House intends to legalize retroactively, by having the wording of War Crimes Act rewritten in the new Military Commissions Act.
While Padilla was being held and tortured, with no rights at all, a federal court case was filed challenging his imprisonment without trial. The White House moved to prevent the Supreme Court from ruling on whether a president could seize and hold U.S. citizens like this, without charges, by officially pressing charges against Jose Padilla in November 2005. This after holding him for almost 4 years of imprisonment and torture. There are now plans to bring Padilla to trial in January 2007. The U.S. government did not actually charge Padilla with planning any armed attacks within the U.S.—despite the public accusations for years associating him with plans for so-called “dirty bomb” attacks. And yet he still faces life in prison if convicted of the charges they did make.
Throughout the last 4 years, the U.S. government has never presented any evidence to back any of their accusations against Padilla. There have been reports that the U.S. government forced other prisoners, under torture, to implicate Padilla, but such coerced statements prove nothing other than the cruelty and ruthlessness of the U.S. government.
The motion Padilla’s attorney filed demands that all charges against Padilla now be dropped because of the “outrageous government conduct.”
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The motion filed in U.S. District Court in Miami on Padilla’s behalf is available online: http://www.discourse.net/archives/docs/Padilla_Outrageous_Government_Conduct.pdf
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