Monday, December 04, 2006


I come back to the story of the late Archbishop Oscar Romero and Marianela every year about this time. I'll come back to it again in another week. Today, I feel like the Archbishop felt: I don't want to know.

In the brig, Mr. Padilla was denied access to counsel for 21 months. Andrew Patel, one of his lawyers, said his isolation was not only severe but compounded by material and sensory deprivations. In an affidavit filed Friday, he alleged that Mr. Padilla was held alone in a 10-cell wing of the brig; that he had little human contact other than with his interrogators; that his cell was electronically monitored and his meals were passed to him through a slot in the door; that windows were blackened, and there was no clock or calendar; and that he slept on a steel platform after a foam mattress was taken from him, along with his copy of the Koran, “as part of an interrogation plan.”
But because " 'His basic needs were met in a conscientious manner, including Halal (Muslim acceptable) food, clothing, sleep and daily medical assessment and treatment when necessary,' the government says "'Padilla’s conditions of confinement were humane and designed to ensure his safety and security.'" After all: " 'While in the brig, Padilla never reported any abusive treatment to the staff or medical personnel.'" As Auden wrote: "Had anything been wrong/We should certainly have heard."

I honestly don't know which is worse: that they would do this to another human being; or that they don't see anything inhumane about this treatment. We are, of course, assured that the Military Commissions Act of 2006 does not apply to American citizens. Funny no one mentions Mr. Padilla's case when making that argument:

Mr. Padilla’s situation, as an American declared an enemy combatant and held without charges by his own government, was extraordinary and the conditions of his detention appear to have been unprecedented in the military justice system.
And what is Mr. Padilla charged with?

Mr. Padilla was added as a defendant in a terrorism conspiracy case already under way in Miami. The strong public accusations made during his military detention — about the dirty bomb, Al Qaeda connections and supposed plans to set off natural gas explosions in apartment buildings — appear nowhere in the indictment against him. The indictment does not allege any specific violent plot against America.

Mr. Padilla is portrayed in the indictment as the recruit of a “North American terror support cell” that sent money, goods and recruits abroad to assist “global jihad” in general, with a special interest in Bosnia and Chechnya. Mr. Padilla, the indictment asserts, traveled overseas “to participate in violent jihad” and filled out an application for a mujahedin training camp in Afghanistan.
O Key of David, O royal power of Israel, controlling at your will the gate of heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and lead your captive people to freedom.

Veniet Dominus et non tardabit,
ut illuminet abscondita tenebrarum

The Lord will come soon, will not delay
The Lord will make the darkest places bright.

Indeed, it has already started.

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