A Travesty of Justice

August 16, 2007 at 1:57 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Jose Padilla, secret combinations | Leave a comment

The jury found Jose Padilla guilty of “conspiracy to support Islamic terrorism overseas.” But as the article astutely points out:

Just as prosecutors did not present the “dirty bomb” plot to the jury, neither were jurors told that Padilla was held in a Navy brig for 3½ years without charges before his indictment in the Miami case.

So the government held an American citizen unconstitutionally for over three years on the charge that he was to plant a “dirty bomb.” The jurors were never presented with this evidence, because of course, if they actually heard or saw what the government did to him, they would never have believed the government’s story.

What this particular case also shows is that the government’s argument that these bad guys cannot be tried in regular civilian courts is well a very weak argument. This decision, while making the DOJ happy, also undermines the Bush administration’s push to create military tribunals for all those at Gitmo. What’s the point of those sham trials when the government can still get away with sham trials in more credible courts?

Right Out of 1984

August 14, 2007 at 3:56 pm | Posted in 1984, American politics, Bush Administration, Jose Padilla, Torture | Leave a comment

O’Brien would have been proud of our US military today. Vice Admiral Lowell Jacoby, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, on the justification for the permanent detention of one Jose Padilla (and the rest of those detainees outside the bounds of the Constitution).

Developing the kind of relationship of trust and dependency necessary for effective interrogations is a process that can take a significant amount of time. There are numerous examples of situations where interrogators have been unable to obtain valuable intelligence from a subject until months, or even years, after the interrogation process began.

Anything that threatens the perceived dependency and trust between the subject and interrogator directly threatens the value of interrogation as an intelligence-gathering tool. Even seemingly minor interruptions can have profound psychological impacts on the delicate subject-interrogator relationship. Any insertion of counsel into the subject-interrogator relationship, for example — even if only for a limited duration or for a specific purpose — can undo months of work and may permanently shut down the interrogation process. Therefore, it is critical to minimize external influences on the interrogation process.

And

Permitting Padilla any access to counsel may substantially harm our national security interests. As with most detainees, Padilla is unlikely to cooperate if he believes that an attorney will intercede in his detention. DIA’s assessment is that Padilla is even more inclined to resist interrogation than most detainees. DIA is aware that Padilla has had extensive experience in the United States criminal justice system and had access to counsel when he was being held as a material witness. These experiences have likely heightened his expectations that counsel will assist him in the interrogation process. Only after such as Padilla has perceived that help is not on the way can the United States reasonably expect to obtain all possible intelligence information from Padilla.

Because Padilla is likely more attuned to the possibility of counsel intervention than most detainees, I believe that any potential sign of counsel involvement would disrupt our ability to gather intelligence from Padilla. Padilla has been detained without access to counsel for seven months — since the [Department of Defense] took control of him on 9 June 2002. Providing him access to counsel now would create expectations by Padilla that his ultimate release may be obtained through an adversarial civil litigation process. This would break — probably irreparably – the sense of dependency and trust that the interrogators are attempting to create.

At a minimum, Padilla might delay providing information until he believes that his judicial avenues have been exhausted. Given the nature of his case, his prior experience in the criminal justice system, and the length of that has already elapsed since his detention, Padilla might reasonably expect that his judicial avenues of relief may not be exhausted for many months or years. Moreover, Padilla might harbor the belief that his counsel would be available to assist him at any point and that seven months is not an unprecedented for him to be without access to counsel.

Any such delay in Padilla’s case risks that plans for future attacks will go undetected during that period, and that whatever information Padilla may eventually provide will be outdated and more difficult to corroborate.

Here are the summaries of the later chapters of 1984 for comparison:

http://www.online-literature.com/orwell/1984/20/

Chapter 2
Winston’s torture starts in real earnest and is presided over by O’Brien himself. At first it is sheer brutal physical torture, incessant blows all over, reducing him to a cowering animal confessing to anything and everything, implicating everybody if only the pain would stop. Then the guards are replaced by the intellectuals of the Party who inflict subtler kinds of pain and reduce him to an abject cringing wreck crying from sheer humiliation and exhaustion. In between, he is administered frequent drug injections which sometimes increase his pain and sometimes knock him out completely. In the last stage, O’Brien takes over personally, with Winston connected to an electric dial by means of which O’Brien can impose any degree of pain he wishes.
O’Brien tells Winston that he is there to be cured of his mental fallacies. He combines the relentless logic of doublethink and the administration of pain till Winston is reduced o saying that four fingers are actually five. O’Brien points out that unlike the persecutors of the old Regimes, Nazism or the inquisition, they did not stop with extorting forced confessions, they break men till they actually become what they are tortured into being. Even the three leaders Winston had once admired – Jones, Aaronson and Rutherford had been broken by the same method till they had been completely broken. He tells Winston that there is no escape, even if they allow him to live, there would be no capacity left in him to be a full human being again, and posterity will not vindicate him as posterity will not even hear of him.
Finally, O’Brien invites Winston to ask any questions he wants to. Winston asks about Julia and is told that she betrayed him totally and completely. He asks if Big Brother exists and is told that as the party says Big Brother exists then he exists. He asks about the Brotherhood and is told that that was something he would never know, even if he lives to be ninety it would be an unsolved mystery for him. Then Winston nerves himself to ask the last question “What is in Room 101?” O’Brien’s mocking answer is that everyone KNOWS what is in Room 101.

http://www.online-literature.com/orwell/1984/21/

Chapter 3
In the next stage of his “education” Winston is told plainly by O’Brien that the Party wants power for its own sake. There are no lies now, the Party is not promising Utopia. The aim is to dehumanize the human race, to obliterate every emotion and instinct except loyalty to the Party. And Winston, as much as anyone else would come to accept this not just as inevitable, but desirable.
Winston puts up a feeble resistance even now. He says that finally, in the last instance the human spirit would overthrow the regime O’Brien was describing. O’Brien mockingly asks him if he considers himself a man. When he says that he does, he is told to look at himself in a mirror and he sees a rotting, emaciated stinking body. That, O’Brien tells him is the last remnant of humanity. It cannot survive. The symbol of the future, O’Brien says is a boot permanently stamping on the human face. He then tells Winston that they have broken his mind as badly as they have shattered his body and asks him if there is any degradation or humiliation that he has not been reduced to. As his last stand Winston claims that he has despite everything not betrayed Julia. O’Brien immediately understands what he means by this – he has revealed all of their secrets, but in the sense of not ceasing to love her, Winston had not betrayed Julia. That, then was the final stage he had to be reduced to.

http://www.online-literature.com/orwell/1984/22/

Chapter 4
Winston was still in solitary confinement, but he was not tortured now. He was fed at regular intervals, he was even given cigarettes. At first he was content to lie free from pain, that in itself was bliss. Slowly as his physical health improved, he retreated into a dream world with the faces changing – his mother, O’Brien, Julia, it was all the same now. He was provided with a slate and pencil, slowly he set about educating himself in the way the Party wanted. He wrote the Party slogans on the slate and made himself believe them. He convinced himself that two and two was five, he acquired, laboriously the stupidity required to do that. Ha managed to convince himself that he had never seen the photograph confirming the innocence of the three executed leaders. He remembered seeing it, but that was an aberration.
On the whole, he was making excellent “progress” when one day he suddenly woke up from a dream crying out “Julia, my love.” His feelings, he realized were unchanged. He had surrendered his mind, but he still hoped to retain his heart. He clung to one last shred of hope, that in his heart he could continue to hate the Party, disguise that hatred even from himself and release it into consciousness only at the moment of his execution. Thus the Party would be unable to destroy his hatred and he would score a small victory by dying with his hatred inviolate.
However, O’Brien anticipated this as he did ever other thought of Winston’s. Entering the cell he tells Winston that intellectually he has made good progress but emotionally the final step remained to be taken. He then asks Winston about his true feelings towards Big Brother. Recognizing the futility of lying, Winston confesses “I hate him.” O’Brien now passes judgment, it is not enough to obey Big Brother, one must also love him. He then utters the dreaded words “Room 101.”

http://www.online-literature.com/orwell/1984/23/

Chapter 5
Winston is confined in Room101, strapped to a chair in a way which rendered him completely immobile. In front of him were two tables on which stood two covered wire cages. O’Brien was holding a lever which would operate the cages. Impassively, O’Brien explains that what Room 101 contains is quite simply, “the worst thing in the world.” This varies from individual to individual. For some it may be torture, fire for some one else, drowning for yet others. For each individual, Room 101 held his greatest fear. When confronted with that, courage and cowardice lose their meaning, one will do whatever one has to do to avoid the horror in Room 101 as naturally and automatically as one will grab at a rope to keep from falling.
In Winston’s case, his greatest fear, his worst nightmare was rats and it was rats there were there in the cages in front of him. O’Brien informs him that he is going to open the cages and set the rats onto him. The rats are starving, they will sense Winston’s helplessness and devour him inch by inch. Winston cries out in terror asking O’Brien to only tell him what he has to do to avoid this. O’Brien vouchsafes no answer and lays his hand on the lever which would open the cages. In a total frenzy Winston sees the rats behind the bar and with a sudden flash of intuition realizes what he has to do to save himself. He has to take the final step of degradation, he has to betray Julia. It is no longer a matter of choice, before this threat, he is helpless. He cries out “Do it to Julia! Not me!” Repeating that cry he is aware that the lever has clicked back into place, the cage is closed. His degradation is finally completed in Room 101.

What is the relationship of the benefits of employing these techniques to the costs incurred upon using them? How does using these techniques reflect on America’s image, and more importantly on America’s credibility as an honest broker of justice? Is “security for all” really the overriding priority in life? Does that not, in fact, coincide with Satan’s plan, to save all, whatever the cost? Who still thinks any of this is right?

Alexander Hamilton on Guantanamo Bay

August 11, 2007 at 7:47 pm | Posted in American politics, conservatives, corruption, Jose Padilla, secret combinations, Torture | Leave a comment

In Federalist #84

The observations of the judicious Blackstone, in reference to the latter, are well worthy of recital: “To bereave a man of life, [says he] or by violence to confiscate his estate, without accusation or trial, would be so gross and notorious an act of despotism, as must at once convey the alarm of tyranny throughout the whole nation; but confinement of the person, by secretly hurrying him to jail, where his sufferings are unknown or forgotten, is a less public, a less striking, and therefore a more dangerous engine of arbitrary government.” And as a remedy for this fatal evil he is everywhere peculiarly emphatical in his encomiums on the habeas corpus act, which in one place he calls “the BULWARK of the British Constitution.”

Remember Jose Padilla

Bush Admits Ordering the CIA to Torture Prisoners

July 20, 2007 at 9:14 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, CIA, corruption, Jose Padilla, secret combinations, Torture | 1 Comment

else why would he just now, six years after the program began sign an executive order banning some vaguely defined “cruel and inhuman” treatment? I mean, the standard should have been all along that we treat people with respect no matter who they are. By signing this executive order, Bush is admitting that by his orders the CIA engaged in illegal actions.

My guess is that some court ruling is fast approaching that will go against the Bush administration yet again. The Bush administration has backtracked before just moments before a defeat at the Supreme Court, in such cases as Jose Padilla and Hamdan.

Then again, it is Friday and Fridays are Bush’s bad news dump time…

The Law Is Silent

May 31, 2007 at 9:05 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Jose Padilla, Torture | Leave a comment

Lewis Koch blogs about the Jose Padilla trial, and again another well written post about the absurdity of the government’s case.

This is a trial every American should pay attention to. Continue Reading The Law Is Silent…

The Case Against Jose Padilla, Getting Worse by the Day

May 24, 2007 at 10:52 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Jose Padilla, Torture | 2 Comments

The United States government’s case against Jose Padilla is getting worse and worse by the day. What started out as hyper-hysterical fearmongering dirty-bomber plot to kill thousands of Americans, has now turned into a fiasco. Lewis Koch writes for Firedoglake about the trial. Note the ridiculousness of the government’s case and witnesses:

Days into the Padilla trial the prosecution presented what was to be their key witness. This was a repentant Yahya Goba, sentenced in his 20s to 10 years in prison for being a terrorist and testifying, he said, in hopes of leniency. Goba, was the prosecutors’ “second” serious witness and had been a member of Yemeni-American Al Qaeda “sleeper cell” in Lackawanna, N.Y. (The first had been a “disguised” CIA agent who, though only able to speak and read English, miraculously made his way through a truck load of documents given to him by an anonymous Afghani whereupon, our intrepid CIA agent just happens upon an Al Qaeda recruitment document (in Afghani) signed by Padilla.)

Warren Richey of The Christian Science Monitor captured the chaos of the government’s case brilliantly in his May 21, 2007 story.

… [T]he picture of Goba that is emerging from the witness stand at Padilla’s trial is less menacing than federal prosecutors had hoped. Rather than boosting the government’s case, his testimony appears to be helping Padilla make his..

The government had hoped to use the fact of Goba’s “terrorist training” in Afghanistan as a replica of the training Padilla had undergone.

In this cross examination, captured by Richey, we see why the Justice Department never wanted Padilla to have his own attorneys.

“Are you now, or have you ever been a terrorist?” Padilla defense lawyer Michael Caruso asked.

“No,” [Yahya] Goba answered.

“You felt that it was necessary to do this training so that if called upon, you could help your [Muslim] brothers and sisters facing atrocities all over the world?” Mr. Caruso asked.

“Yes,” Goba said.

Defense lawyers asked Goba to explain his beliefs about jihad, or Islamic holy war. He agreed that jihad can represent an inner struggle within a Muslim and that when it takes the form of physical fighting, it is only acceptable in defense of Islam and Muslims. (Emphasis added)

“So murder is not jihad?” asked William Swor, a lawyer for a Padilla codefendant. “Unfairly injuring someone is not jihad?”

“Yes,” Goba answered to both questions.

Richey summed up how well the prosecutors had done.

By the end of the cross examination, prosecutors knew they were in trouble…”

So – what do we have, so far?. A CIA agent who can’t read any Afghani finds a recruiting application in Afghani signed by Padilla. Goba? He says jihad is not murder, so saying Padilla was bent on jihad didn’t mean all that much.

What does the Justice Department have in the way of evidence?.

They have 300,000 taped phone conversations, of which 230 phone calls are the heart of its case. Of those 230 calls, 21 make reference to Jose Padilla. Of those 21 phone conversations, Padilla’s voice is heard on seven. Of those 7, there are discussions about having some “picnics,” so they could “smell fresh air and eat cheese” and oh, yes, a very “significant” blather when Padilla talks about spending $3500 on “zucchini.” No talks of terrorists acts, no bombs. Nothing.

The government claims the food references were code.

Even if this conjecture is true, can the government prove zucchini translates to terrorist bombs? What vegetables are code for murder, kidnapping, and maiming?

Terrorist zucchini? A hidden CIA operative who admitted he didn’t know Arabic was able to find a piece of paper among thousands written in Arabic that had Padilla’s name on it? WTF?!?!?!?! Could this be more imbecile?

Let’s also not forget that for about four years, the government held this AMERICAN CITIZEN as they have held prisoners down in Gitmo, and have done some pretty horrible things to him. All for, what exactly?

On the Absurdity of the Case Against Jose Padilla

May 18, 2007 at 9:53 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Gitmo, Jose Padilla, secret combinations, Torture | 3 Comments

Firedoglake reports from the trial against Jose Padilla, and in this particularly good article Lewis Koch notes the total absurdity surrounding the case of Jose Padilla, and that of Hamdi, who is also an American citizen but is sitting free and comfortable back in Saudi Arabia. Why is Jose Padilla not free?

Absurd man, absurd.

What If This Was Your Son or Daughter?

December 5, 2006 at 3:40 am | Posted in America, American politics, Jose Padilla, King George, Muslim, Torture, War on Terror | 41 Comments

I ask this question about Jose Padilla. Apparently few Americans find it in their hearts to be truly troubled by how this man has been treated. After all, he was a former gang member, and he’s a Muslim, and apparently had contacts with Al-Qaida. But read the following accounts about his three and a half years in custody at the hands of the United States government and ask yourself if this is something you wish to see upon your son or daughter. This is important, because if this sort of thing is allowed to continue, the government might accuse your son or daughter of being a terrorist, and throw your son or daughter in prison without the possibility not only of standing trial, but of confronting his or her accusers and demanding the evidence, the proof of the accusation. It is tough to want to find love for a former gang member, but if we cannot do unto the least of these His brethren, have we done it unto Him?

The ongoing national disgrace of lawless indefinite detentions

As I have said many times, the most astounding and disturbing fact over the last five years — and there is a very stiff competition for that title — is that we have collectively really just sat by while the U.S. Government arrests and detains people, including U.S. citizens, and then imprisons them for years without any charges of any kind. What does it say about our country that not only does our Government do that, but that we don’t really seem to mind much?

Breaking the furniture

This treatment is extremely inhumane. They basically blinded, deafened and then isolated him, essentially destroying his mind. There is no reason on earth to put those goggles and earphones on him to go to the dentist in the prison in South Carolina except to keep him from ever feeling like a normal human being, part of the natural world. It’s sick.

………

Somewhere they came up with the idea that every single person detained by the military as an enemy combatant was not just guilty, he was not even a human being. And so they did this stuff almost as if to make sure the person was not treated as a human being in any way. Perhaps it tested their own assumptions too much if they were seen as people instead of pure personifications of evil.

And it worked:

In his affidavit, Mr. Patel said, “I was told by members of the brig staff that Mr. Padilla’s temperament was so docile and inactive that his behavior was like that of ‘a piece of furniture.’ ”

This “piece of furniture” had to have blackout goggles and earphones, manacles and a force of men in riot gear in order to go to the prison dentist. I do not know if they made him wear the goggles and earphones when he had his root canal. But I’d be willing to bet they did. It would be so much more punishing not to be able to see and hear, but be able to feel. Why waste an opportunity to further dehumanize the furniture?

Urban Archaeology

Anyway, in the diary were observations about the mental health of the prisoners. The prisoners lived in solitary confinement, in small rooms lacking natural light. The diarist expressed genuine surprise that it didn’t take very long (6-12 months) for prisoners – many of whom were in for minor offenses – to start displaying signs of profound mental illness.

What this has to do with current events is left to the reader.

drooling sociopath

A couple years ago, I had a first-hand encounter with one of these “drooling sociopaths” when I was selected for jury duty in a murder trial here in Chicago (26th and California).

The woman accused of murder was a black woman 20 years old. During selection for jury duty, the judge asked us all some questions.

She came to one white woman about 20 years old who immediately said that the accused black woman should die for her crime. The judge calmly pointed out that this was not a death penalty case in the first place, and secondly, no evidence had been even presented.

The young white woman stood her ground and told the judge the other woman “should die!” and that as far as she was concerned “anyone accused of a crime is guilty.” Furthermore, said the woman, she happened to be a “Christian” and a very religious woman, and that her religion demanded that this woman must die. It was in the Bible, “an eye for an eye.”

Jose Padilla in chains

This series of video images shows a typical prison cell extraction of Jose Padilla, an alleged al-Qaeda operative who faces federal terrorism charges after being declared an “enemy combatant” by President George W. Bush. The photos, taken from an unclassified Department of Defense video shot at the Navy brig in Charleston, S.C., show some of the precautions taken by officers (who are dressed in camouflage and riot gear) when transporting the 36-year-old Padilla. After cuffing Padilla’s feet and hands–which the detainee had to stick through openings in his cell door–officers removed him from the cell and placed blackout goggles and headphones on Padilla. In this case, according to a December 1 court filing by Padilla’s legal team, the former Chicago gang member was being brought to “other parts of the facility where he was confined.” Padilla’s counsel included the seven images as an exhibit to a U.S. District Court filing arguing that he has been subjected to torture and unduly harsh treatment since his incarceration in 2002. Padilla’s lawyers claim that his mistreatment has included “isolation; sleep and sensory depravation; hoodings; stress positions; exposure to noxious fumes; exposure to temperature extremes; threats of imminent execution; assaults; the forced administration of mind-altering substances; denial of religious practices; manipulation of diet; and other forms of mistreatment.”

Bush’s America

Three ridiculously well-armed soldiers to guard and escort a defenseless inmate with no shoes, driven to mental illness, who has a record of perfect compliance with his jailors and who has seen all the main charges against him dropped. An American citizen detained without charge for almost four years – in solitary confinement and darkness and forced to wear goggles and sound-erasing ear-plugs in public.

One man is responsible for this. And he is president of the United States. I am told I am hysterical to be angry about this. But my anger gets deeper the more we know. I simply do not understand why the anger and sense of disgrace is not more widely felt.

I do not understand either, Mr. Sullivan.

The Future of America Under Bush

December 4, 2006 at 3:32 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Jose Padilla, King George, Torture, War on Terror | 3 Comments

Take a hard look America. This is the future of American citizens under the Bush ideology. How could you defend yourself against this? If Bush accuses you of being an “enemy combatant,” how can you challenge that assertion?

Is this really America?

Jose Padilla, The Man Who Will Bring Down George W. Bush

November 30, 2006 at 4:31 pm | Posted in American politics, Cheney, Congress, Democracy, Jose Padilla, King George, Military, Republicans, Torture, War on Terror | 2 Comments

We’ve got a very important showdown approaching in the courts over Jose Padilla who might just be the man who will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and lead to the complete downfall of George W. Bush. This former gang leader was arrested with great public fanfare (John Ashcroft proudly parading on TV from Moscow!), and declared by Bush himself to be an “enemy combatant” to be held without any Constitutional rights, even though he was an American citizen. Thus anything that occurred to him while held incommunicado for nearly three years in a military brig, came at the blessing and order of the president himself. If Mr. Padilla is allowed to publicly state what occurred to him, it might provide enough legal power to charge President Bush with ordering torture and the violation of the Constitution, the War Crimes Act, not to mention the Geneva Conventions…all on an American citizen, captured on American soil. Is the president above the law? Can he really arbitrarily say who is an “enemy combatant?” Can he arbitrarily name any American he desires as an “enemy combatant?” If the accused is not offered a chance to challenge the detention and accusation, how can we trust that the president did not make a mistake? Note in the case of Mr. Padilla that upon nearing an embarrassment at the Supreme Court, the Bush Administration abruptly shifted Padilla’s case back to the criminal system rather than the military. Is that a mistake? Furthermore, he is no longer accused of planning a radiological dirty bomb now that he is in the criminal system. Is that a mistake? How can we tell if no one is allowed to challenge the accusation?

The Founding Fathers were very prescient when designing our system of government. They did not wish to see a strong executive. They saw the corruption of power by their King George in England. Cheney has a history of wishing the executive were more powerful than allowed by the Constitution and the designers, our Founding Fathers. This is not the right direction for America, and will only lead to more violence, death, destruction and woe for our country. Pull back, conservatives. Come back from the brink. Join us in demanding from lawmakers the removal of Bush and Cheney from power. This must end.

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