Torturing an American
11 Oct 2006 02:38 pm
Andrew Sullivan

The U.S. Congress has approved this president’s extraordinary powers to detain any one at will (in violation of the Supreme Court’s holding in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld and in Rasul v. Bush), without charges (in violation of what a majority of the Court implicitly held in denying Jose Padilla’s latest writ for certiorari), keep them indefinitely (same), and torture them if the president wants to (in violation of the holding in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld). Some have argued that this can only happen to non-citizens.

That is untrue. (After all, in Hamdi, the Court held that citizens, as well as non-citizens held at Guantanamo, had the right to challenge their detention as enemy combatants, in proceedings containing a sufficient quantum of procedural safeguards so as to make the at-will, ad hoc designation of someone as an “enemy combatant” unlawful, so who could forgive people for “thinking” this?)

Glenn Greenwald has new and important data on what was done to Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen and terror suspect, captured by the government, detained for almost three years in isolation (and moved from a military brig to civilian custody when the government realized it could not come up with a charge against him) with ever being formally charged, and, of course, tortured on the president’s orders.

Money quote from his lawyer’s brief (latest petition for cert, I guess; the Rehnquist five made up a law that “prevented” the Court from deciding upon the merits of Padilla’s case in 2004, thus sanctioning the government’s duplicity):

Mr. Padilla was often put in stress positions for hours at a time. He would be shackled and manacled, with a belly chain, for hours in his cell. Noxious fumes would be introduced to his room causing his eyes and nose to run. The temperature of his cell would be manipulated, making his cell extremely cold for long stretches of time. Mr. Padilla was denied even the smallest, and most personal shreds of human dignity by being deprived of showering for weeks at a time, yet having to endure forced grooming at the whim of his captors…
He was threatened with being cut with a knife and having alcohol poured on the wounds. He was also threatened with imminent execution. He was hooded and forced to stand in stress positions for long durations of time. He was forced to endure exceedingly long interrogation sessions, without adequate sleep, wherein he would be confronted with false information, scenarios, and documents to further disorient him. Often he had to endure multiple interrogators who would scream, shake, and otherwise assault Mr. Padilla.

Additionally, Mr. Padilla was given drugs against his will, believed to be some form of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) or phencyclidine (PCP), to act as a sort of truth serum during his interrogations.

Andrew concludes:

We live in a country where one man – the president – now has the power to detain any one at will, without being charged for years at a time, and tortured. This isn’t an emergency provision, to be revoked when a conflict ends. Since this war has no fixed enemy and no fixed end, it is now our permanent reality. America as we have known it, is over. Al Qaeda never had the power to do this damage to constitutional liberties. We did it to ourselves.


Or, as a famed comic strip concluded, “We have met the enemy, and it is us”. It’s not too late – there is still a glimmer of hope. But to prevent that glimmer from fading into the void, we must, as a start – as a mere throat-cllearing – vote the bums out this November. History has shown that the greatest damage done to our liberties has not been inflicted by foreign invaders, but by us. It’s not that some don’t understand this lesson. They understand it all too well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.