Revolution #100, September 9, 2007
The Inexcusable Torture of Jose Padilla
The U.S. government has refused to reveal the conditions that Jose Padilla was held in at the military brig in Charleston, claiming that this is a “state secret.” But some of this has come out through the media and in the defense motions at his trial. A lot of what was done to Padilla involves extreme sensory deprivation. Photos in the press show him being moved from place to place with black goggles over his eyes and sound protectors over his ears. A recent report in the Christian Science Monitor described some of the conditions:
“According to defense motions on file in this case, Padilla’s cell measured nine feet by seven feet. The windows were covered over. There was a toilet and a sink. The steel bunk was missing its mattress.
“He had no pillow. No sheet. No clock. No calendar. No radio. No television. No telephone calls. No visitors. Even Padilla’s lawyer was prevented from seeing him for nearly two years.
“For significant periods of time the Muslim convert was denied any reading material, including the Koran. The mirror on the wall was confiscated. Meals were slid through a slot in the door. The light in his cell was always on.
“Those who haven’t experienced solitary confinement can imagine that life locked in a small space would be inconvenient and boring. But according to a broad range of experts who have studied the issue, isolation can be psychologically devastating. Extreme isolation, in concert with other coercive techniques, can literally drive a person insane, these experts say…”
A legal document filed in 2006 described other methods of torture Padilla was subjected to:
- Manacled in extremely painful stress positions for hours, often under a hood.
- Repeatedly threatened with being executed or cut by a knife.
- Forced to take powerful mind-altering drugs.
- Deprived of sleep, night after night, by loud noises.
Commenting on what the U.S. government had done to Padilla, Scott Horton, Columbia University adjunct law professor, wrote, “Was it really torture? Yes. At this point there’s very little disagreement on this score among experts who have studied it. On the other side you will find only ‘experts’ in the pay of the U.S. Government whose job is to manufacture excuses for the inexcusable.”
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