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Friday, October 13, 2006

Notes from the Gulag

The Jose Padilla case continues to outrage, more than four years after John Ashcroft announced, in Moscow no less, Padilla's arrest in Chicago a month earlier. For 3 1/2 years, Padilla wasn't charged with anything, even though the administration claimed first that he was planning a "dirty bombing," and then later that he was going to blow up some apartment buildings. When the Supreme Court finally forced the Bushies to charge Padilla, neither allegation was included in a vague and apparently baseless indictment of assisting terrorism. Padilla's groundless arrest and extended detention without charges or trial are outrages enough against the Constitution, but they are only the beginning. According to a Motion to Dismiss filed last week by Padilla's lawyers, Padilla has been tortured in various ways throughout his detention, including being given hallucinogenic drugs like LSD.
It is also extremely important to note that the torturous acts visited upon Mr. Padilla were done over the course almost the entire three years and seven months of his captivity in the Naval Brig. For most of one thousand three hundred and seven days, Mr. Padilla was tortured by the United States government without cause or justification. Mr. Padilla's treatment at the hands of the United States government is shocking to even the most hardened conscience, and such outrageous conduct on the part of the government divests it of jurisdiction, under the Due Process clause of the Fifth Amendment, to prosecute Mr. Padilla in the instant matter.
And then there's the 16 Afghans and one Iranian just released from Gitmo:
One of the released prisoners, Sayed Mohammead Ali Shah, said he had been a delegate at the country's first loya jirga, a council of leaders that helped establish the interim government in 2002 after the U.S.-led invasion to oust the Taliban in 2001.

"For four years they put me in jail in Cuba for nothing," said Shah, a doctor from the eastern province of Paktia whose hands shook from nervousness when he spoke.

"All these people (the other prisoners) and all those Afghans still in Cuba, they are innocent," he told reporters. "All were arrested because of false reports, and the Americans, without investigating, they arrested innocent people and put them in jail for a long time."

Another former prisoner, Habib Rahman, 20, said he was arrested because he had a weapon in his home.

"They told me, 'You are against us, you are anti-American and anti-government and you are fighting with us,'" said Rahman, from Paktia. "At that time in our area everyone had weapons. I was innocent and I hadn't participated in any fighting."

Rahman said that he was treated harshly at Guantanamo, and that one time he was kept awake for 38 hours while being questioned about ties to terrorists.

"The last time they tortured me like that was four months ago," he said. "They were kicking us all the time, beating us with their hands."
Amazing that the U.S. would release these guys after the Senate Majority Leader convicted them, sight unseen, last month.
If we let them go, there is no question in my mind that many would return to what they were doing before they were captured: plotting new ways to attack us.
Of course, that was before Frist was pro-Taliban.

Clearly, our government has no respect for either international law or the Constitution, or else they would have either tried or released Padilla and the Gitmo gang years ago. Also, they're clearly lying about concerns to protect us. If I had to guess (okay, I want to guess), I'd guess at the following statistics about the "detainees" at Gitmo:
  • Fewer than five percent had any real ties to al Qaeda (at least before they brought KSM and other high-profile cases there last month). Of these, probably only two or three had anything to do with 9/11 or other attacks on America.
  • Probably 50% or so were actively fighting against US forces, but since when is defending your country a crime? At worst, they should have been treated as prisoners of war, which means the full Geneva Convention treatment, including not transferring them to the other side of the world.
  • The remainder were captured for no reason whatsoever, caught up in a sweep or turned in for a bounty.
  • Most of those released so far are probably from this last category, but knowing how thoroughly our government screws up, they've probably released a couple of hard-core al Qaeda terrorists as well.
  • Chances are that some of those wrongly detained and eventually released, some will someday participate in an attack against the US, something they might never have considered before. And if not them, perhaps a family member. Blowback happens.