Friday, August 17, 2007

Jose Padilla - when punishment precedes conviction

On Thursday, jurors in the Jose Padilla trial found him guilty of conspiracy to support Islamic terrorism overseas. On December 5 he will learn his fate -- or does he need to wait?

The Padilla case may be a first -- where a now convicted criminal actually received his punishment before the trial.

On her Democracy NOW site, Amy Goodman writes:
Jose Padilla has been found guilty in court and faces possible life in prison, but forensic psychiatrist Dr. Angela Hegarty explains after interviewing him that Padilla already paid the ultimate price through torture -- he's lost his mind.
Never mind that his conviction was for a crime different from the reason for his arrest. This is George Bush's America, where Constitutional rights and rule of law are meaningless.

In 2002 Padilla was arrested in Chicago as he exited an airplane. The charge, by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, was that Padilla was at the center of a plot by al-Qaeda to set off nuclear dirty bombs inside the United States.

President Bush then classified Jose Padilla as an enemy combatant, stripping him of all his rights. He was transferred to a Navy brig in South Carolina where he was held in extreme isolation for forty three months.

The Christian Science Monitor reported: "Padilla's cell measured nine feet by seven feet. The windows were covered over… 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."

According to his attorneys, Padilla was routinely tortured in ways designed to cause pain, anguish, depression and ultimately the loss of will to live.
Keep in mind that Jose Padilla is an American citizen.

Up until last year the Bush administration maintained it had the legal right to hold Padilla without charge forever. But when faced with a Supreme Court challenge, President Bush transferred Padilla out of military custody to face criminal conspiracy charges.
Dr. Angela Hegarty, assistant profession of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University, has spent time with Padilla. She concluded that he lacked the capacity to assist with his own defense. When asked if Padilla had been tortured her response was:
Well, "torture," of course, is a legal term. However, as a clinician, I have worked with torture victims and, of course, abuse victims for a few decades now, actually. I think, from a clinical point of view, he was tortured.
Hegarty was only able to do limited testing on Padilla, but concluded that his results were consistent with someone had suffered brain damage. When asked what happened to Padilla while in the brig, Hegarty responded:
What happened at the brig was essentially the destruction of a human being's mind.
So there you have it. A person is imprisoned for possibly committing a crime, but before having an opportunity to meet with a lawyer, go through a trial, or even have a final judgment, the punishment is inflicted.

The New York Times report called the decision "significant victory for the Bush administration." But the real question to ask is whether this "significant victory" is on the war on terrorism or the war on the Constitution?


Tengrain said...


I was so shocked when I heard this today. So when do you suppose Thought Crime legislation will be enacted?

1984, indeed.



BAC said...

I don't understand how these people have been allowed to remain in office. All Bill Clinton did was have sex in the White House ... these people have complete shredded the Constitution.