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August 22, 2007

Perverse Justice: Padilla, solitary, and the brain

My latest column for In These Times is up.

It's about how solitary confinement and coercive interrogation destroyed Jose Padilla's mental faculties.

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» Perverse Justice and the Securitarian Position from John Protevi's Blog
Lindsay Beyerstein, who blogs at Majikthise, has an In These Times article on the destructive use of solitary confinement in the Jose Padilla case, and by extension, elsewhere. Read it; here's the punch line: it seems perverse that the government [Read More]

Comments

I've already read it. Good work.

That happens on a larger scale...it's called religion.

We should all send a copy of your article to our respective Senators and Rep, urging them to pass a bill against subjecting prisoners to sensory deprivation and isolation.

The treatment of this man was an abomination. He was convicting of aiding terrorists fighting in the Balkans. For this he had to be essentially tortured for 4 years.

This is sickening.

This is how fascism looks.

"Then, tomorrow was another day
The morning found me miles away
With still a million things to say..."

These terrorists should be thrown in jail, the key thrown away, and then the jail thrown away. And then blown up. Die terrists die!

Padilla should have been allowed visits from
Lynne Stewart or a similar terrorist groupie lawyer who could pass messages along.

This guy was a monster every day of his life. Before he converted to Islam, he was a gang banger who kicked in the head of a member of a rival gang. The other guy died.

Once he saw the light from the East, he fell for Al Queda and worked towards the successful explosion of a Dirty Bomb in America, probably in my city.

You'll forgive me if I am lacking in my sympathies for Jose Padilla, gangbanger, murderer, terrorist. He wanted to kill me, and he wanted to kill you.

Keep him in solitary for a hundred million eternities.

The Phantom -

Holding him in solitary doesn't make us safer than holding him with other prisoners.

Should it be legal for a Democratic president to call you "an enemy combatant" and hold you in solitary for two years?

Phantom - Should the eighth amendment be repealed? Yes or no?

Well done indeed! I've linked to it over at Death and the Maiden. Thanks!!

There's not much to say on this issue that hasn't been said elsewhere: to what does the Geneva Convention apply, what is the US's responsibility involving non-citizens, is Padilla a citizen since participating in martial action against the US either voids one's citizenship or brings one in taint of treason, what sort of international and moral prestige has the US lost as a result of these tactics, etc.

The real issue isn't so complicated. It is wrong to torture someone, period. No legitimate justifications exists for treating a human being in this manner, regardless of that person's supposed misdeeds.

Padilla was indeed a terrorist, an enemy combatant.

I'm not sure that this was any kind of cruel punishment. The Lynne Stewart incident shows the danger of allowing terrorist fanatics to communicate directly, or indirectly with those from the outside. To some extent, it was the vile Ms. Stewart that put this criminal in his solitary confinement.

I'm happy that this guy was kept incommunicado. It was an effective, and correct response to the threat that Padilla presented us with.

>The Lynne Stewart incident shows the danger of allowing terrorist fanatics to communicate directly, or indirectly with those from the outside.

Wow, what a potent, powerful, persuasive argument! I'm convinced. Lynne Stewart was worser than Hitler and a dire threat to the continued survival of the United States!!

Splutter on.

Padilla was indeed a terrorist, an enemy combatant. Sure he was a terrorist, and a traitor. Also a U.S. citizen.

I'm not sure that this was any kind of cruel punishment.
Sort of a defining characteristic of the right: being pretty sure that there’s no such thing as a genuinely cruel punishment. (Excepting the grotesquely brutal punishments occasionally meted out to innocent victims in suits like Scooter Libby.)

The Lynne Stewart incident shows the danger of allowing terrorist fanatics to communicate directly, or indirectly with those from the outside. To some extent, it was the vile Ms. Stewart that put this criminal in his solitary confinement.
Well, that’s it. Any counsel might be rogue counsel, so no one gets any.

I'm happy that this guy was kept incommunicado. It was an effective, and correct response to the threat that Padilla presented us with.
Yep, should Padilla ever find out what the time or date is, our republic is doomed.

So you don’t care for the eighth amendment, and now you don’t care for the sixth either.
The Osama bin-Fundies carry out a couple successful attacks, America proceeds to shit its pants and the right wing then decides we should wipe up the mess with the constitution. What is it we're supposed to be fighting for again?

Unfortunately, I can't post from work. My fascist boss wants me to be working, or whatever.

---

-What is it we're supposed to be fighting for?-

Keeping us safe should be no the list somewhere.

While some may regard this as a second tier issue, I don't. I've seen what can happen, up close.

I live in New York City, riding the subway nearly every day, I walk through the Wall Street area five days a week. I'm not in the Pacific Northwest looking at the fishies. This is not an academic issue for me.

America was not "shitting its pants" when it reacted to a changed world nearly six ago. There's a real threat that needs to be responded to. You evidently want us to respond with a September 10 mindset. Sorry. Ain't gonna happen.

You equate someone who wanted to blow up a dirty nuclear bomb with Scooter Libby. Yeah. Don't think that needs responding to.

I can understand why some will question the conditions under which this monster, this murderer who wanted to be a mass murderer was treated, but --under no circumstances should someone like this have unmonitored conversation with any other living human being. That is the lesson Lynne Stewart has taught us, one that we unlearn at our peril.

>Unfortunately, I can't post from work. My fascist boss wants me to be working, or whatever.

---

>-What is it we're supposed to be fighting for?-

>Keeping us safe should be no the list somewhere.

(emphasis added)

Thanks, I need a good laff in the morning.

You're kinda pitiful, Phantom. When are you gonna get that badass handgun and start shooting up the "terrists" on the subway?

You evidently want us to respond with a September 10 mindset.

No, more like a December 8, 1941 mindset. Acknowledgement that there is a great danger, but not to have a meltdown and ditch the Bill of Rights. Even then we went overboard with Executive Order 9066 and stripped Japanese-Americans of their civil and constitutional rights unnecessarily. (Don’t start lecturing me about dangerous “japs”. My father, aunt and uncles were the only white kids attending the Tule Lake relocation camp high school –It’s a long story-, but unless you’re Japanese-American yourself, don’t even try to justify E.O. 9066.) If the only way to defend the U. S. is to trash the constitution (and Bush/Cheney have been doing exactly that – in spades), I’m not on board. The United States is the constitution; without it we’re just another place without even an interesting national cuisine.

Yes, you lost friends in the 9/11 attacks and there is no denying the gravity of the threat of more, and even more destructive attacks. Is that danger so great that the constitution must henceforth be considered, as we apparently now officially now consider the Geneva Conventions, just a “quaint” artifact of the naïve horse-and-buggy era? Is the Bill of Rights antiquated garbage that must be jettisoned in order that a streamlined national security plan be functional? If so, I’ll be seeking employment in one of those countries that still takes the anachronistic notion of civil rights seriously. I guess I’m just an old romantic living in a long-forgotten, delusional past.

As for us mollycoddled panty-waists living safely in the verdant Northwest forests worrying about our silly civil rights while the valiant citizens of Gulliani’s gritty Gotham clench their teeth and wrestle with gut-churning dread as they go about their quotidian tasks, please. The dirty bomb that Padilla hoped to engineer could be set off anywhere. Remember Ahmed Ressam, the “millennium bomber”? He entered the U.S. at a ferry terminal at Port Angeles, Washington. The Department of Interior had a little mock “dirty bomb” exercise recently. The facsimile bomb was detonated in Portland and the facility where I work was forthwith dropped from the exercise as the prevailing -and absolutely predictable- winds carried the radiation upriver and “killed” us. Yes, of course, New York experienced a real attack, but my point is that New Yorkers or even urban citizens have no special corner on terrorist danger. I live on the Columbia River and spend a lot of working hours around hydroelectric dams. Way before 9/11 it’s been glaringly obvious to those of us working on the dams how to stage a very effective terrorist attack: drop backpack nukes in the forebays of selected dams, and Portland and every other place downriver is flooded with radioactive water. (That would be Dworshak, Grand Coulee, and John Day dams to start with, for you terrorist readers who want to do it right.) You can motor right up to within a couple hundred yards of the dams and drop them off; no one will notice. High explosives and a bucket of nasty radionuclides would work too, though you might need four or five boats per dam. Meanwhile, since 9/11 we’re supposed to keep all doors but the front on the (federal) lab where I work locked at all times in case Kalashnikov toting terrorists jump out of the woods and kill us.

No effort should be spared to prevent terrorist attacks, but abandoning a constitution that has served us pretty well for over two centuries through times of danger at least as serious as ours –like a civil war- is betrayal. (Right, Lincoln suspended Habeas Corpus, but it proved unnecessary and he besmirched his reputation by doing so.) ‘Inter arma silent leges’ is an understandable sentiment as war commences, but in a few days it’ll have been six years on, and permanent suspension of constitutional guarantees for Bush/Cheney’s “long war” is just horseshit.

If we’re going to get into a macho pissing match about walking down Wall St. vs. what I do, ok, I should mention that last week, one of my co-workers was bitten by a rattlesnake (the antivenin he got at the hospital didn’t work BTW.), and the week before that another one lost a finger in a winch (the second crushed finger was given a 50/50 chance as of yesterday.). Dread is a part of life, get used to it.

Phantom, are you really unable to see that Lindsay's article is not about sympathy for the person, Jose Padilla, but about concerns about legal precedent? Are you really comfortable with the huge extension of executive power this case represents? If so, you should never call yourself a "conservative" ever again, but substitute something else. What about "securitarian"?

cfrost

You raise an interesting point when you speak of the the internment of Japanese Americans by liberal and Democratic icon Franklin Roosevelt.

Even as a child, I was a news junkie. I used to listen to the Barry Grey show, then famous in NY and to some extent outside of it. Grey was a young man during the war years, and he ( himself very much of a Democratic mindset ) was a passionate defender of the internment of the Japanese immigrants and the nisei.

It was his contention that had internment not taken place, that there would have been widespread race riots, and lynchings in California and the West Coast in general. We will never know.

I believe that the record shows that there was never any evidence of the US citizens/immigrants of Japanese background cooperating in any way with the Japanese government or military.

I've never been in favor of the internment of the Japanese Americans. You are mistaken to think that I would be sympathetic to this injustice.

Nor would I be in favor of wholesale sweeps of Muslim Americans into internment camps, or anything like that. That has not happened, though in the fantasies of some, it has or it will happen tomorrow morning.

Hawaii is one of my favorite places and it is interesting that the then-territory did not have internment of its large Japanese population, despite the fact that Pearl Harbor of course happened there.

A large number of Japanese Americans volunteered for military service and then for combat missions. Though not allowed to fight in the Pacific, (now US Senator) and other Japanese Americans fought with great courage and distinction in Europe.


cfrost

You raise interesting points and very good detail. Lets just say that we have different views on the tactics used by the government in the War On Terror. ( which is what it is )

I'll just cavil at the comparison of the rattlesnake bike and the terrorist threat. Rattlesnakes (and bears, etc ) belong in the ecosphere, while OBL and Jose Padilla and their friends do not. If I had the power to eliminate all snakes, I would say no. They have more of a right to be here than we do.

The first responsibility of this or any government, far more important than any other, is to protect its citizens. Anyone, liberal, conservative, or anything else had best keep that in mind in any conversation of this type. This is self-evident.


>Phantom, are you really unable to see that Lindsay's article is not about sympathy for the person, Jose Padilla, but about concerns about legal precedent?

Let's just say Phantom suffers from "smooth-brain-cortex syndrome" and he's off my debate list. I think he's quite sincere. But somewhat less than, you know, entertaining.

Though not allowed to fight in the Pacific, (now US Senator) Daniel Inouye and other Japanese Americans fought with great courage and distinction in Europe.

he's off my debate list

I guess I'm off his too, since he just stone cold ignored my simple questions at 3:38. Oh, well.

he's off my debate list

Let me come to Phantom's defense here. Crazy goddam conservative, yes, but everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I and my liberal friends should not presume to always know the truth. And, from what I've read, Phantom has pretty much always been civil (certainly at least as much as I) and has stated his case clearly and as sensibly as he sees it.

So, Phantom, Sir, you're not of my debate list. Your crazy conservative points often as not encourage discussion, as opposed to the name-calling, mud flinging, and vitriol a certain other trollesque person has bandied about here.

Aside: I'm soon to go on vacation with some folks that make Phantom look like Joan Baez, and I expect to have a very good time.

I agree for the most part, cfrost, except for the "conservative." No conservative worthy of the name wants to hand the executive branch the sort of power Lindsay describes. Phantom is a securitarian, or an authoritarian, but not a conservative.

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