David Kirkpatrick

September 19, 2009

Torture and George W. Bush: an indictment

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:39 pm

Andrew Sullivan has been among the loudest voices in the blogosphere, or anywhere for that matter, on the subject of torture during the Bush 43 Administration’s execution of its “war on terror.” In the October 2009 Atlantic magazine he wrote a fairly long letter to President Bush asking him to help erase the stain this policy has tainted the United States with, and described his essay as “conciliatory.”

At least one Daily Dish reader disagrees with Sullivan and describes the essay as an excellent final summation that, “tried, convicted and sentenced them (Bush Administration officials) all in one grand piece.”

The essay is quite long as web reading standards go, and it is worth the time spent to read the entire piece. It’s fair, thorough, chilling and is filled with not a little sadness of what this nation lost under Bush’s policies.

I’ve done plenty of blogging on this topic and I have Sullivan and others to thank for one, exposing what was happening to the Constitution, our rights and our standing in the world; and two, for keeping this difficult topic in front of minds and eyeballs that would most likely prefer to ignore and move on.

If you believe the torture was only done to “others” who are out to get Americans and don’t deserve any rights, I’ll excerpt what happened to a United States citizen — stripped of all rights, all dignity and in the end humanity. If you cherish your rights and the Constitution of the United States, this tale outlines in detail why you should fear the George W. Bush presidency and the idea its precepts could ever return in any form.

From the Andrew Sullivan essay, “Dear President Bush,”:

I want to mention one other human being, an American, Jose Padilla. I do not doubt that Padilla had been a troubled youth and had disturbing and dangerous contacts with radical Islamists. You were right to detain him. But what was then done to him—after a charge (subsequently dropped) that he was intent on detonating a nuclear or “dirty” bomb in an American city—remains a matter of grave concern. This was a U.S. citizen, seized on American soil at O’Hare Airport and imprisoned for years without a day in court. He was sequestered in a brig and, his lawyers argued,

was tortured for nearly the entire three years and eight months of his unlawful detention. The torture took myriad forms, each designed to cause pain, anguish, depression and, ultimately, the loss of will to live. The base ingredient in Mr. Padilla’s torture was stark isolation for a substantial portion of his captivity.

Among the techniques allegedly used on American soil against this American citizen were isolation (sometimes for weeks on end) for a total of 1,307 days in a nine-by-seven-foot cell, sleep deprivation effected by lights and loud music and noise, and sensory deprivation. He was goggled and earmuffed to maintain a total lack of spatial orientation, even when being treated for a tooth problem. He lost track of days and nights and lived for years in a twilight zone of pain and fear. His lawyer Andrew Patel explained:

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 …

After four years in U.S. custody, Padilla was reduced to a physical and mental shell of a human being. Here is Patel’s description of how Padilla appeared in his pretrial meetings:

During questioning, he often exhibits facial tics, unusual eye movements and contortions of his body. The contortions are particularly poignant since he is usually manacled and bound by a belly chain when he has meetings with counsel.

Mr. President, if you heard of a citizen of Iran being treated this way by the Iranian government, what would you call it?


  1. Jose is an undercover agent you should know not for them but for us. What is being reported as torture is his cover. Were it not for that he would already be dead. He has served the prosecution of terrorism well. When the time is right he will have his identity erased and will be able to live free.
    You should also know that those who are in this boat are just lucky to be alive and not dead. It is good that they came over and turned for us. Were not for this many more would have died.

    Comment by DWSNOIW — September 19, 2009 @ 3:32 pm

  2. “Noxious fumes would be introduced to his room causing his eyes and nose to run.” The commander of the brig testified under oath that the brig is located on a Navy base that is (not surprisingly) down by the waterfront in an industrial area. When the wind blows from a certain direction the smell from a nearby factory is something that Padilla, all the other prisoners, all the guards, and the commander himself has to put up with.

    He also claimed he was injected with mind altering drugs, but the commander testified that the only injection he got was the annual flu shot everyone received.

    There has never been a shred of evidence that Padilla was tortured. Although his case was in continuous litigation, twice on appeal and twice before the Supreme Court, not once did he or anyone representing him claim he was being tortured. Only after he was released did some defense lawyer in Miami invent the claim of torture as a substitute for an actual defense.

    To insure that nobody could ever be actually stupid enough to imagine Padilla was tortured, everything he did 24×7 was recorded on video. The disks were inventoried on request of the defense, although they then never introduced a single minute of video to support their claim of torture. All they had was a signed statement from Padilla and the baseless, fabricated lies of his lawyer.

    There are detainees who we know were tortured. There are detainees who claim to have been tortured and we cannot say for sure if they are telling the truth. Then there is Padilla, the one detainee who thanks to complete video recordings and the sworn statement of members of the professional staff at the Navy state-of-the-art medium security prison is the one detainee we know to an absolute certainty was not tortured.

    We also know from the FBI interrogation of Padilla in the month before he was transferred to military prison that he was a fully cooperating witness. The objective of his military detention was to maximize the accuracy and completeness of the information he was already giving to the US. The one thing everyone agrees about torture is that it produces unreliable results. Someone who is being tortured will say whatever he thinks you want him to say just to get it to stop. This is the exact opposite of what the military wanted. Torture would have been the absolutely stupidest thing anyone could have imagined doing to Padilla given the circumstances and objectives of his detention.

    Jose Padilla admitted that he came to the US to blow up apartment buildings and kill thousands of Americans for the enemy. However, his delicate nose cannot stand the industrial smell that everyone else put up with. How terrible. However, that stink is nothing compared to the noxious fumes from the guys who quote a lawyer and then just assume that whatever he says must be true.

    Comment by HowardGilbert — September 19, 2009 @ 8:18 pm

  3. […] By datechguy …a Nazi, hates black people , evil incarnate, a mass murderer, a torturer. A man so evil and depraved that a person could win a Nobel Peace Prize for simply not being […]

    Pingback by You know for 8 years we were told George Bush was… « DaTechguy's Blog — October 14, 2009 @ 8:52 am

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