Friday, September 23, 2011

Appeals Court validates torture of American citizens on American soil

I keep saying the torture issue isn't going away. One big reason is because the torture policy initiated by the Cheney-Bush Administration and left unprosecuted by the Obama Administration is corrupting the American system and will continue to do so until the trend is reversed by our political and legal institutions realizing how deeply criminal it is.

Glenn Greenwald explains the implications of a brutal 11th Circuit Federal Appeals Court decision that validated the torture of American citizen Jose Padilla, who was held in federal custody for three years in the United States and severely tortured (Jose Padilla and how American justice functions Salon 09/20/2011).

As Glenn reminds us, Padilla was dramatically accused of being involved in a "dirty bomb" plot, i.e., one involving radioactive material. So fare as anything in the public record shows, however, there was never anything more substantial than John Ashcroft lying imagination. Padilla was convicted of "supporting Islamic terrorism overseas" and sentenced to 17 years in a super-max prison. He was never charged with anything connected to a "dirty bomb" and nothing in the government's case on the actual charges linked him to that scary-sounding plot. Our crippled media, however, still commonly refer to him as the "dirty bomber."

Glenn summarizes the grim story of Pedilla's torture:

The story of Jose Padilla, continuing through the events of yesterday, expresses so much of the true nature of the War on Terror and especially America's justice system. In 2002, the American citizen was arrested at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, publicly labeled by John Ashcroft as The Dirty Bomber, and then imprisoned for the next three years on U.S. soil as an "enemy combatant" without charges of any kind, and denied all contact with the outside world, including even a lawyer. During his lawless incarceration, he was kept not just in extreme solitary confinement but extreme sensory deprivation as well, and was abused and tortured to the point of severe and probably permanent mental incapacity (Bush lawyers told a court that they were unable to produce videos of Padilla's interrogations because those videos were mysteriously and tragically "lost").

Needless to say, none of the government officials responsible for this abuse of a U.S. citizen on American soil has been held accountable in any way. That's because President Obama decreed that Bush officials shall not be criminally investigated for War on Terror crimes, while his Justice Department vigorously defended John Yoo, Donald Rumsfeld and other responsible functionaries in civil suits brought by Padilla seeking damages for what was done to him.
Eric Holder's Justice Department demanded more punishment for the convicted man:

Not content with what was done to Padilla, the Bush DOJ -- and then the Obama DOJ -- contested the sentence on appeal, insisting that it was too lenient; Padilla also appealed, arguing that the trial court made numerous errors in excluding his evidence while allowing the Government's. Yesterday, a federal appeals panel of the 11th Circuit issued a ruling, by a 2-1 vote, rejecting each and every one of Padilla's arguments. It then took the very unusual step of vacating the 17-year-sentence imposed by the trial court as too lenient and, in effect, ordered the trial judge to impose a substantially harsher prison term ...
And in our Republican-dominated federal judiciary, the partisan affiliation of the Appeals Court judges is telling:

It should be said that part of what happened here is just the typical politicization of the judiciary, as the two-judge majority was comprised of a hard-core right-wing Reagan/Bush 41 appointee from Alabama (Joel Dubina), while the other was one of Bush 43's most controversial appointees, the former Alabama Attorney General who was filibustered by the Democrats and allowed onto the bench only by virtue of the "Gang of 14" compromise (William Pryor). Meanwhile, the dissenting judge was born in Mexico to Syrian parents and, after moving to Miami at the age of 6, became the first female judge (as well as the first Hispanic and Arab American judge) on the Florida Supreme Court (rising to Chief Justice), and was a Clinton appointee to the federal appeals court (Rosemary Barkett); Barkett, incidentally, dissented from an 11th Circuit ruling denying a habeas petition to Troy Davis, the African-American death row inmate scheduled to be executed by the State of Georgia this week despite mountains of evidence showing his innocence. So this episode highlights one of the few genuine differences that remain between the two parties that can truly impact people's lives: their judicial appointments.
The torture issue isn't going away.

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