Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Jose Padilla case. The framers didn't have this in mind.

The NYT reported yesterday that a video tape has sufaced of so-called "dirty bomber" Jose Padilla being readied for a trip to the dentist during his 21-month stay at Naval Weapons Station in Charleston, S.C.

Padilla was shackled and then "noise-blocking headphones" were put over his ears and "blacked-out goggles" were put on his eyes. The military guards "whose faces were hidden behind plastic visors," then "marched their masked, clanking prisoner down the hall to his root canal."

Padilla's lawyers plan to present the video in court as evidence of the fact that Padilla has been so traumatized by his three and a half year detention by the military that he isn't able to aid in his own defence in court.

Of course, this is provided the judge in the case will allow any testimony concerning his detention. The NYT: "Federal prosecutors have asked the judge to forbid Mr. Padilla’s lawyers from mentioning the circumstances of his military detention during the trial, maintaining that their accusations could 'distract and inflame the jury.'"

Yes, I can see how a jury might be "inflamed" to know that an American citizen has been held in solitary confinment by the military, without any charges, or access to a lawyer for over three years. I think there's some sort of musty old document somewhere that says the government can't do this kind of thing -- ever. It might also be distracting to learn that the original reason for arresting Padilla in the first place -- that he was about to explode a "dirty bomb" -- isn't a part of the charges against him. He's just being charged now with "conspiracy," which is a somewhat amorphorous catch all for prosecutors who really have nothing.

It might also come as a shock that the information the government based its arrest of Padilla on, and the subsequent fearmongering that went on about "dirty bombs" in the media, was coming from a "senior" al-Qaeda suspect who was tortured and most likely lied abbout a lot of stuff to get them to stop.

According to ABC News:

"After treatment there for gunshot wounds, he was whisked by the CIA to Thailand where he was housed in a small, disused warehouse on an active airbase. There, his cell was kept under 24-hour closed circuit TV surveillance and his life-threatening wounds were tended to by a CIA doctor specially sent from Langley headquarters to assure Abu Zubaydah was given proper care, sources said. Once healthy, he was slapped, grabbed, made to stand long hours in a cold cell, and finally handcuffed and strapped feet up to a water board until after 0.31 seconds he begged for mercy and began to cooperate."

This where Padilla comes in. A June 12 2002 CNN report says:

"U.S. officials said the first tip came from Zubaydah about two weeks before Padilla's May 8 arrest. Zubaydah gave a physical description of Padilla, officials said, but did not name him. After following up on the information and obtaining photos of Padilla and another man, U.S. authorities showed the pictures to Zubaydah, who confirmed they were the two men allegedly involved in the 'dirty bomb' plot."

Hey, that's good enough for me. Lock him up and throw away the key!


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