"Blinking in Code"?


I missed this gem. Ann Althouse speculates that they put U.S. citizen Jose Padilla in blackout goggles and sound-proof ear-muffs to prevent him "blinking in code" in a walk outside his cell. Blinking to whom? After four years in total isolation? This is from his lawyer's brief:

Mr. Padilla was often put in stress positions for hours at a time. He would be shackled and manacled, with a belly chain, for hours in his cell. Noxious fumes would be introduced to his room causing his eyes and nose to run. The temperature of his cell would be manipulated, making his cell extremely cold for long stretches of time. Mr. Padilla was denied even the smallest, and most personal shreds of human dignity by being deprived of showering for weeks at a time, yet having to endure forced grooming at the whim of his captors...

He was threatened with being cut with a knife and having alcohol poured on the wounds. He was also threatened with imminent execution. He was hooded and forced to stand in stress positions for long durations of time. He was forced to endure exceedingly long interrogation sessions, without adequate sleep, wherein he would be confronted with false information, scenarios, and documents to further disorient him. Often he had to endure multiple interrogators who would scream, shake, and otherwise assault Mr. Padilla.

All of the original headline accusations against Padilla have been dropped. There are no charges of "dirty bomb plots" any more. The indictment is vague about his connections to global jihad, and if this president had had his way, there would never have even been an indictment. The worst he is accused of is being recruited to an Islamist cell linked to conflict in Bosnia and Chechnya. Maybe Padilla is guilty. But nothing he is now charged with can justify either the length of his detention or the sadism meted out to him. After all these years, you think he has anything more to say? You think this defenseless, bare-footed, manacled, disoriented shell still represents a threat so dire he requires three riot police to escort him blind and deaf down a corridor? In the end, as Orwell noted, the point of torture is torture.

As for "blinking in code," Padilla is so traumatized that he no longer fully controls his eye movements or body:

"During questioning, he often exhibits facial tics, unusual eye movements and contortions of his body," Mr. Patel said. "The contortions are particularly poignant since he is usually manacled and bound by a belly chain when he has meetings with counsel."

But let me say this in defense of Althouse. She is at least conceding that the shameful treatment of Padilla is worth discussing. And her defense of the sadism is about as plausible as it will ever get. She sees there is an important principle here - something we once knew as habeas corpus. Here you have a U.S. citizen detained on American soil, kept without charges for 3 and a half years, accused of plotting a dirty bomb attack (an accusation never substantiated in any way), tortured until he may be mentally incapable of standing trial ... and the conservative blogosphere is completely, utterly silent. Habeas corpus disappears not with a bang, and not even with a whimper, but with deathly quiet. Well, we know what American conservatism now stands for. You can see the visual above.