The Militant Libertarian

I'm pissed off and I'm a libertarian. What else you wanna know?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Why Did They Torture Jose Padilla?

by John Grant

There’s a rancid odor escaping from the cracks in the Jose Padilla case. Padilla is the American citizen arrested in Chicago and declared by President Bush to be an “enemy combatant.” He was then kept for nearly two years in a South Carolina brig without access to a lawyer, family, or friends.

The courts finally forced the Bush administration to release Padilla into the justice system, and he is now imprisoned in Miami awaiting trial on charges that have nothing to do with what he was arrested for — an alleged plot to use a dirty bomb in the United States. It is claimed he had al-Qaeda connections.

What makes this case so insidious is that, according to a psychiatrist who examined him over a 22-hour period, the treatment Padilla received in the South Carolina brig was such that he now “lacks the capacity to assist in his own defense.” In other words, a U.S. citizen was secretly worked over for 21 months to the point he is unable to think well enough to engage with his lawyer.

What needs to be pointed out is that the procedures that broke down Padilla’s mental equilibrium weren’t dreamed up by his jailers in South Carolina. According to Alfred McCoy in a new book called A Question of Torture, they are the result of decades and billions of dollars of taxpayer-funded research.

“From 1950 to 1962,” McCoy writes,

the CIA became involved in torture through a massive mind-control effort, with psychological warfare and secret research into human consciousness that reached a cost of a billion dollars annually — a veritable Manhattan Project of the mind.

This research amounted to “the first real revolution in the cruel science of pain in more than three centuries.” This “black budget” research has never stopped and elements of it were rushed into practice after 9/11.

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