Feb 19, 2007
Jose Padilla’s case is finally getting into the courts. His lawyers filed papers documenting the various ways the government has been torturing him.
Padilla’s case shows what the so-called “USA PATRIOT Act” is really about. Under this act, the government picked him up and has held Padilla in solitary confinement ever since 2002. He was not allowed to talk to a lawyer or anyone else for the first 21 months.
For nearly five years, the government tortured him in every possible way short, maybe, of pulling out his fingernails. They prevented him from sleeping. They chained him to the floor and deprived him of light and heat. They drugged him with hallucinogenic chemicals and threatened to kill him.
It is not a surprise that today Padilla suffers from post-traumatic stress and memory gaps, and is unable to watch videos of his interrogations. Like many other victims of torture, he has been turned into one of the walking dead.
As most experts in police methods have explained, torture is not useful in finding real information – only in getting someone to denounce other people or himself falsely. Stalin and Hitler knew all about such methods. So, clearly, does the U.S.
The government’s goal was to use brutal methods to extort a confession. Such a confession would have made for a spectacular trial and would have showed the government was doing something to stop the “threat” of domestic terrorism.
But so far, they have not been able to wring a false confession out of Padilla. And they obviously had no evidence against him. The proof is that they kept changing the charges against him. They first accused him of plotting to detonate a “dirty bomb.” That claim was dropped. Next they claimed he plotted to blow up high-rise apartment buildings in the U.S. – then that claim was dropped. Finally they said he was intending to harm people in countries outside the U.S.
What the government did against Jose Padilla, using the Patriot Act, is what they could use the Patriot Act to do against anyone. Padilla’s treatment is aimed at making a demonstration of just how tough the government can be.
Anyone who is politically active – in a union, community group, against the war, or anything else – has an interest in opposing this case. It is aimed at controlling society – and that means everyone in it.