Thursday, January 04, 2007

Tough Ship

Yesterday Nina Totenberg did a fairly good job of letting the lawyers for Jose Padilla lay out the evidence of the barbaric treatment that their client suffered at the hands of the US government while being held incommunicado for over two years in a US Navy brig. The details were chilling (tortured with absolute sensory deprivation, shackling, no bedding, no human contact, etc. for TWO full years). The report concluded with Totenberg's noting that a source within the government affirmed that the goal of the government was to render Padilla so mentally damaged that he could be remanded to a psychological prison - apparently forever. See this post at Daily Kos for more on Totenberg's report.

Also yesterday, the ACLU made news with the FBI reports on torture at Guantanamo. If you read the reports you'll find descriptions of the treatment meted out to prisoners there: prisoners shackled in fetal position to a bolt in the floor in their urine and feces for over 24 hours (in extreme cold and heat), a prisoner with his bearded head heavily duct taped, a prisoner with an Israeli flag draped on him, a Quran squatted on and straddled by an interrogator, guards and interrogators bragging about lap dancing on a prisoner, and baptizing a prisoner, etc.)

This constext made it grotesque, but in character for NPR (see posts of Sept. 9th and Sept. 7th) to interview Jackie Northam with her upbeat, admiring tone as she assessed conditions at Guantanamo. She says "Each commander has his own way of doing business and leaves his own imprint at Guantanamo" (I'll say!) Of the current war criminal running Guantanamo, Rear Adm. Harry Harris, she says "things have tightened up since he arrived last spring" and "he runs a tough ship down there." Regarding the hundreds of uncharged, un-indicted prisoners who have no legal rights to even challenge their detention, Northam says, "Adm. Harris told me the last time I was there that there are no medium-security terrorists, only maximum-security terrorists." She, of course, fails to mention that there is not one shred of independent, legitimate, verifiable evidence to support this Orwellian claim.

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