Wednesday, February 28, 2007

'Civilized' Prison Conditions

The public is getting a brief glimpse into the conditions under which Jose Padilla and presumably other detainees have been forced to live. Padilla, an American citizen who was initially held in a military brig until the US Supreme Court began looking into his case, is the subject of a current competency hearing in federal court. From today's NY Times:

The brig’s technical director, Sanford E. Seymour, also said that Mr. Padilla, an American citizen who was designated an enemy combatant in 2002, sometimes slept on a steel bunk without a mattress, that the windows in his 80-square-foot cell were blackened and that brig employees covered up their nametags around him.

He was allowed a few visits with an Imam, but there were times when Padilla's Koran was taken from him. He came to believe (one wonders how) that a flu shot he was given was actually an injection of LSD.

Both government and defense experts have examined Mr. Padilla, and as is usually the case, come up with different conclusions. The conditions under which he was examined are somewhat suspect for both sides.

“I’m not sure that any of us know what happened at the brig, but I know that something there put the fear into Mr. Padilla,” said Patricia Zapf, a forensic psychologist who examined him. “Mr. Padilla is an anxiety-ridden, broken individual who is incapacitated by that anxiety.”

But the Bureau of Prisons psychologist, Dr. Buigas, disagreed with the diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. He said Dr. Zapf’s testing was invalidated by the fact that Mr. Padilla was handcuffed during the tests, a condition imposed on Dr. Zapf by prison officials. ...

Prosecution lawyers scoffed at the idea the Mr. Padilla was mentally incompetent, saying that his jailers had never reported any psychiatric problems and that he had comported himself well during court hearings.
[Emphasis added]

This is what we have been reduced to.



Anonymous Nora said...

First, I don't believe any allegations they make about what he did or didn't do while he was imprisoned. I think the only fair thing to do at this point in the game is to assume that the government will lie without hesitation, and treat all their assertions with serious skepticism.

Second, isn't there something horrifying in the government that allegedly tortured him making the argument that he couldn't have been tortured because he never complained to his alleged torturers? If he's telling the truth, then what earthly good would it have done him to try to complain about his treatment? Did he have any reason to believe -- would any reasonable person in his circumstances have believed -- that anyone would listen to him or help him? Remember that he was kept more or less in solitary confinement for long periods of time, and was subjected to sensory deprivation when he so much as went out to be treated by a dentist. Who in his position would bother complaining? At best, he would be likely to be ignored; at worst, his conditions might worsen.

If there were real justice, Bush and his minions would be subject to the same kind of treatment they found fair to be meted out to Jose Padilla and the prisoners at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib.

10:07 AM  

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