The Missing Padilla Video

Where is the videotape of Jose Padilla's final interrogation? It's crucial evidence, and could be central to showing the American public in graphic terms what the Bush administration has done to a U.S. citizen. Sometimes you need to see what torture is, as in Abu Ghraib, before you grasp what it is that these thugs in the Bush administration have been up to. And yet ... the video has somehow just "disappeared." Money quote:

The missing DVD dates from March 2, 2004. It contains a video of the last interrogation session of Padilla, then a declared 'enemy combatant' under an order from President Bush, while he was being held in military custody at a U.S. Navy brig in Charleston, S.C. But in recent days, in the course of an unusual court hearing about Padilla's mental condition, a government lawyer disclosed to a surprised courtroom that the Defense Intelligence Agency which had custody of the evidence was no longer able to locate the DVD. As a result, it was not included in a packet of classified DVDs that was recently turned over to defense lawyers under orders from Judge Cooke.

The disclosure that the Pentagon had lost a potentially important piece of evidence in one of the U.S. government's highest-profile terrorism cases was met with claims of incredulity by some defense lawyers and human-rights groups monitoring the case. "This is the kind of thing you hear when you’re litigating cases in Egypt or Morocco or Karachi," said John Sifton, a lawyer with Human Rights Watch, one of a number of groups that has criticized the U.S. government’s treatment of Padilla. "It is simply not credible that they would have lost this tape. The administration has shown repeatedly they are more interested in covering up abuses than getting to the bottom of whether people were abused."

Given what we have discovered about the criminal conduct of the Bush administration with respect to detainees, the notion of "losing" such critical evidence isn't, to my mind, credible. We cannot prove this, of course. But put it all together and you have two alternatives: a) the Pentagon is so disorganized and incompetent it can lose a critical piece of evidence in its most high-profile case or b) we have a government run by war-criminals covering their tracks. Feel safer?