December 14, 2006

Cruel and Unusual?

The other day I wrote about how studies in the 50s written up in a declassified CIA report said that the effects of isolation for extended periods of time could cause irrecoverable mental damage to a human being. And I said that it was likely that Jose Padilla who is now described as having the behavior of "a piece of furniture" had his personality destroyed by the significant time he was held in isolation. Well, today, the Washington Post gives a clue about just how long his time in isolation was.

The attorneys said Padilla spent 1,307 days in a 9-by-7-foot cell in an isolated unit, was often chained to the ground for hours by his wrists and torso, and was kept awake at night by guards using bright lights and loud noises.

Prosecutors asked the judge to quash the subpoenas, arguing that Padilla's attorneys are making "meritless" and "sensationalist" claims to turn the court's attention away from his alleged misconduct. In previous filings, the government decried the "absurdity of Padilla's assertion" that he was abused, noting that the government was "conscientious enough to tend to his toothache."

What the WaPo notes is the Pentagon knew this would be a problem.

A previously undisclosed Pentagon report concluded that the three terrorism suspects held at a brig in South Carolina were subjected to months of isolation, and it warned that their "unique" solitary confinement could be viewed as violating U.S. detention standards.

Knowing what we know about the effects of prolonged isolation on a human being, would you call this treatment cruel and unusual?

Posted by Mary at December 14, 2006 08:38 AM | Human Rights | Technorati links |

I can't imagine myself turning another human being into a "piece of furniture" by means of long term sensory deprivation. I couldn't live with what it would make me BECOME, in the process of dehumanizing another.

But a quick visit to Little Green Footballs or Free Republic (or to the Oval office or Department of Defense, I'll wager) will expose a great many who feel that 1)Anyone accused of terrorism is guilty without need of trial or law 2) that anyone accused of terrorism deserves torture, and, let's face it...3) that there are many out there who would love, love, love to be the totrurers if given any opportunity for arousal in the guise of patriotism.

So, Cruel? Yeah. Unusual? Not as much as I'd like to think.

Posted by: 1MaNLan at December 14, 2006 10:34 AM

Not only is it cruel punishment, it's punishment without due process of law. The defense should move that the trial judge punish the prosecution for the conditions under which Jose Padilla was held, and for any phony pretext for holding him without trial (or if they held him without trial without any legal justification).

The presiding judge has the power to punish irregularities that occur in his trials.

Posted by: John H. Morrison at December 14, 2006 03:39 PM

Buzzflash has a nice one:

CJ online

I'm not even going to mention that while all this was going on the Bush daughters, those beguiling twins Jenna and Barbara, were cavorting in Argentina, behaving so outrageously that the Argentine government asked them to leave.

I don't mention it because picking on politicians because of their dimwit children seems to me the second-last refuge of scoundrels, right before Fox News. I will pass on, however, Jon Stewart's observation that while Argentina welcomed fugitive Nazi war criminals with open arms after World War II, the Bush twins were more than it could take. Makes you wonder what they were doing and whether we can get pictures, doesn't it?

It's no wonder Mr. Bush doesn't read newspapers. After all, what's reality ever done for him?

Posted by: ccokz at December 15, 2006 05:07 AM