The menticide of Jose Padilla
Democracy Now! has a fascinating interview with a psychiatrist who interviewed suspected terrorist Jose Padilla for over 22 hours in an attempt to determine whether he was fit to stand trial after more than 3 years of solitary confinement.
In 1951, psychiatrist Joost Meerloo coined the term "menticide" to describe the kind of systematic psychological violence that the Chinese inflicted upon American POWs during the Korean War. The basic techniques haven't changed much since then. Over the years, these tactics have been embraced by a variety of cults and coercive "treatment" programs in the United States and abroad.
Today, the US government insists that mind-killing is an essential part of their endless war on terrorism. For details, see Jane Mayer's excellent New Yorker piece, The Black Sites.
Dr. Angela Hagerty concluded that Padilla was not fit to stand trial. Amongst other things, she observed that the 36-year-old American was furious at his own lawyers for making the government's job harder:
Also he had developed, actually, a third thing. He had developed really a tremendous identification with the goals and interests of the government. I really considered a diagnosis of Stockholm syndrome. For example, at one point in the proceedings, his attorneys had, you know, done well at cross-examining an FBI agent, and instead of feeling happy about it like all the other defendants I’ve seen over the years, he was actually very angry with them. He was very angry that the civil proceedings were “unfair to the commander-in-chief,” quote/unquote. And in fact, one of the things that happened that disturbed me particularly was when he saw his mother. He wanted her to contact President Bush to help him, help him out of his dilemma. He expected that the government might help him, if he was “good,” quote/unquote. [Democracy Now!]
Talk about not being fit to participate in your own defense...
Padilla was charged with conspiring to murder people overseas and providing material support to terrorists abroad. The government publicly accused Padilla of participating in a "dirty bomb" plot, but that wasn't what they charged him with. After nearly four years of "enhanced" interrogation, they still didn't have enough evidence to lay charges in the bomb plot? What does that say about the effectiveness of their methods?
By destroying Padilla, the government cheated us all out of justice. If Padilla had gotten the speedy trial that he was entitled to as an American citizen, he might have been legitimately convicted. Instead, the government tortured an American citizen and undercut the legitimacy of their prosecution.
In any event, a Florida jury has reached a verdict in Padilla's civilian trial. The contents of the verdict have not yet been made public.
Update: The AP reports that Padilla was convicted on all counts.