Tuesday, August 14, 2007

More On Padilla: A Cycle Of Torture

Truthout links to The Christian Science Monitor and their must read part two of a three part expose on the treatment of Jose Padilla at the hands of the Bush administration. Part three of the article, focusing on the legal implications of Padilla's case, can be found here. And the Christian Science Monitor editorial regarding their three part report can be found here.

Also of note is the article by CSM from September 15, 2006 titled 'Alternative' CIA tactics complicate Padilla case. That article details how Padilla was first implicated because of the testimony of three "high value" terrorist detainees, all of whom were tortured before giving up information about Padilla. The reason the administration has played fast and loose with Padilla's status is because the evidence they used to identify him as an Al Qaeda agent would never be allowed in a U.S. court of law.

Part two of the article details just why Padilla went into custody mentally sound, as determined by government psychologists when he was taken to the brig, but is now suffering from various mental health issues. Padilla was driven mad by being subjected to extreme isolation and sensory deprivation. Thats bad enough, but the CSM article indicates the government who subjected Padilla to this brutality knew full well that what they were doing was a form of torture:
The new Army Field Manual bars the use of isolation to achieve psychological disorientation through sensory deprivation. "Sensory deprivation is defined as an arranged situation causing significant psychological distress due to a prolonged absence, or significant reduction, of the usual external stimuli and perceptual opportunities," the manual states. "Sensory deprivation may result in extreme anxiety, hallucinations, bizarre thoughts, depression, and anti-social behavior. Detainees will not be subject to sensory deprivation."

Despite the tough words, the field manual offers only a general prohibition. So-called coercive interrogation methods - including isolation - have been specially authorized for certain units in the military and the Central Intelligence Agency.

The technique is not new. The Soviets used isolation and sensory deprivation to identify and discredit political dissidents. US prisoners of war confessed to nonexistent war crimes in the Korean War after similar treatment.

Fear of "brainwashing" prompted the CIA and Defense Department to underwrite research in the 1950s and '60s into the impact of isolation and sensory deprivation. The findings were included in a 1963 CIA handbook, later declassified. The book discusses the possible use of such techniques, including isolation. But it warns of the "profound moral objection" of applying "duress past the point of irreversible psychological damage."

That's what happened in Padilla's case, says Grassian. "It is clear from examining Mr. Padilla that that limit was surpassed."

He has "undergone a profound, tremendously prolonged psychological stress involving extended periods of utter isolation and deprivation," the psychiatrist writes. Grassian's report concludes: "Given the extensive research on this issue, much of it funded by the United States government, it follows necessarily that the United States government was well aware of the likely consequences of its conduct in regard to Mr. Padilla."
I've stepped all over any semblance of fair use on the CSM article, and I highly encourage anyone interested in the Padilla case to read it. The article goes on to describe how the Soviets expected their dissidents to break after four to six weeks of isolation. Padilla appears to have been given a particularly intense period of isolation lasting for aproximately five months between November of 2002 and April of 2003. Padilla refers to this particular stretch of isolation as the "terrible time".

What irks me is the thought that Padilla was accused by three men who broke under torture. Those men may be horrible terrorists and killing machines, but they would have ratted out the Queen of freaking England to make the torture stop. Then the government turned around and did the same exact thing to Padilla. They broke him through torture, and who knows who he ratted out in order to try to make it end. It is a cycle of torture always leading to the next victim, and the President stands up and tells the nation how valuable the program is in stopping terrorists plots and how many lives have been saved. Well how many lives have been ruined Mr. President? I can name two immediately. Maher Arar of Canada and Khaled el Masri of Germany. Both have been absolutely exonerated of any connection with terrorism, but only after they were detained and tortured, in the case of Arar being rendered to Syria.

How many innocent men have been released from Guantanamo and why were they there in the first place? Wait, I can hear the right wing bots now... "but what about the ones we released who were later killed or captured fighting us?!" If I were in those detainees shoes I'd be freaking cheesed off about it too! Maybe cheesed off enough to want to fight the guys who were responsible for imprisoning me for years even though I was innocent and torturing me on top of it all. Freaking right, I'd be mad as a wet cat in a moving car... and so are those guys. Honestly right wing koolaid drinkers, put yourself in that position. You get nabbed by some government half the world away who dissapears you, tortures you, and generally makes your life a living hell for several years. When you get out are you going to just let that slide? Maybe so... but you can understand not feeling all peaceable after that as well I hope.

Well Padilla was nabbed after being fingered by men who were being tortured. Padilla was tortured as well. Who knows where that particular cycle ended... if it ever did.

I get so hot about this that my train of thought just goes off on random trails and trying to make sense of my take on this makes for difficult reading I'm cerain. I want to end this with a couple of points I've made in the past. First: There is no way the emergency faced by President Bush and the nation after 9/11 was as dangerous as that faced by George Washington in 1775, Lincoln in 1861, or FDR in 1941. How is it then that President Bush has seen fit to over throw over 230 years of military doctrine and allowed for detainees to be tortured. Oh yeah... I don't care if Bush doesn't want to call it torture, it is.

And my final thought on this travesty. Jose Padilla and his insanity are the living embodiment of tyranny ruling America. If a detainee can have Padilla's name torn from his screaming, tortured body, who is to say it could not have been your name or mine? If the interrogators had wanted to hear your or my name from their victim they would have gotten it. And eventually you or I would have given our own confessions, in order to make it stop, and Bush would then hold you or I up as examples of how this anti American abomination of a program is saving lives. Here's my word for this. Disgusting!

[UPDATE] I knew there was something else I wanted to say about this. MAJOR KUDOS go to the Christian Science Monitor for an excellent piece of journalism. That sort of extensive and well researched reporting is sadly lacking in today's media, and CSM deserves praise for this article in particular. So thank you to the Christian Science Monitor for a job well done!

Congratulations on your post, the flawed logic of torture as a mean to extract helpful information should be obvious.
Disgusting is not even close to what a government has being allowed to do to another human being in the name of freedom and democracy.

Destroying a human's being mind, brain damage, are the effects, according Dr. Hegarty the forensic psychiatrist who interviewed Padilla, of the premeditated systematic torture inflicted on and US citizen before he was even found guilty.

What kind of human beings are in charge here?

Watch Amy Goodman interviewing Dr. Angela Hegarty, who speaks for the first time about her experience interviewing Jose Padilla for 22 hours.
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