Weekly vigil outside the law school at UC Berkeley where John Yoo, Bush's legal apologist for torture, teaches when he is not on book tour.
Jose Padilla is Bush's guinea pig. A U.S. citizen, a Puerto Rican, a convert to Islam, once a gang member and petty criminal, Bush labeled Padilla an "illegal enemy combatant," had him locked up in a Navy prison, and, Padilla charges, had him tortured for 3 and half years. Our elected representatives in Congress have just legalized Bush's assumption of such a power, after the fact, in the so-called "Military Commissions" bill. So much for the rule of law. And so much for any expectation of security in our persons within our own country by virtue of being American citizens.
Now that Padilla's been charged and given access to lawyers (so the Supreme Court wouldn't have to decide in his case whether to endorse Bush's lawlessness), his attorneys have detailed what he says was done to him.
There has not been nearly the volume of commentary on this in the liberal political blogosphere that I would have expected. Glenn Greenwald and Michael Froomkin at Discourse.net (the full brief is there) are honorable exceptions.
What Padilla claims was done to him is sickening stuff. I find it very believable as it the logical extension of experiments with "interrogation" and torture that have been ongoing in the ugly underside of the U.S. "security" apparatus as least since U.S. service men captured in the Korean war "gave in" to their captors. Our military decided they needed to refine the Korean and Chinese methods. Mostly they have practiced overseas, especially in Central America. "Supermax" isolation units in domestic prison systems also fit the bill. Now those "techniques" (that antiseptic word for vile acts against the human person) are being normalized.
Whether there are any limits to what our rulers claim the right to do to us will ultimately be a political matter, not a question of law. Law is on the run. Popular revulsion has interrupted tyranny before and can again, but only if we find the courage to build an opposition. I am posting a very long set of excerpts from Padilla's brief below, because I believe we can only stop torture if we are willing to look at it. Read and weep.