Not much of a story, as it is now about a man who is not much of a person anymore. Jose Padilla was arrested in May, 2002 and detained (nice word) for a month before he was named an enemy combatant by George Bush, and transferred to a naval brig in a ship off the coast of South Carolina. He was kept in a 7 x 9 foot cell with no windows, no clock, and no control over the lights or sound. Whenever he was let out of his cell to go anywhere, they used goggles and "ear defenders" (as they're called in the gun trade) to essentially cut off as much sensory information as possible from reaching his brain. As the CIA knows, from experiments conducted in the early 60s, this sort of interrogation/confinement technique slowly erodes the mind to a point now where Padilla trusts his jailers more than his lawyers.
Essentially, they drove him out of his mind, and would now like to (finally!) try him for aiding terrorists. Or something. They've changed their minds once or twice about what they can charge him with, now that he's actually being brought to trial. The beauty of all this is, now his lawyers are saying that he's unfit, and his treatment in the hands of the American government is being put on trial. If the defense team can prove torture, Padilla could go free. And if he truly is a dangerous person, then our government's short-sighted behavior will have let a potential terrorist loose to commit actual crimes (as opposed to incarcerating him indefinitely - and illegally - for crimes he was thinking of committing).
The judge found him competent to stand trial today, and capable in assisting with his own defense, even though he refuses to discuss his case with his lawyers. The judge did not say that Padilla hadn't been tortured. The government tried to argue that there is this Al Qaeda manual stating that if incarcerated, you should always say you've been tortured, even if you hadn't been. The judge pointed out that there's no proof Padilla had ever seen the manual, let alone that he was a member of Al Qaeda. The government's psychiatrist testified that Padilla is competent to stand trial, even though his two conversations with Padilla had taken place through the slit in his cell door and were two years apart.
I'm so proud to be an American. Maybe, eight years ago. For about twenty minutes.
In other horrific news, a woman (Sabrine Al Janabi) was raped in Iraq by Iraqi security forces (over and over and over). This would not really be news to some. The difference is, she had the (forgive me) balls to go to the media. Nouri Al Maliki (the current president of Iraq) has investigated the matter and within hours determined that the woman had not been raped, and, as matter of fact, the security forces who didn't do this horrible thing are "heroes."
For those not interested in cultural relativism, skip this paragraph. Women who are raped (and report it) in Muslim society are often societally shunned, in some cases, even by their own families. By reporting this crime, she exposed herself to a potential honor killing, murdered for committing "adultery." Or as we in the "educated" west refer to it, rape. So to say that she's done this to embarrass the security forces is basically assuming that Iraq has suddenly become non-Muslim.
Cultural Relativism: "principle that an individual human's beliefs and activities should be interpreted in terms of his or her own culture." -- Wikipedia
This term and the mindset behind it was in response to western ethnocentrism, i.e., we're the best the brightest the smartest, and all you folks in the third world are primitive. And how we prove it every single time.
For a more complete account of this little atrocity, please read the Baghdad Burning blog via the link to the left. You might find yourself throwing up, but it's worth knowing this crap.
Indonesia - 1965 President Sukarno was balancing the Muslim military against the populist PKI (Indonesian Communist Party), and was even intending to arm the PKI in order to better maintain a balance between the two. The CIA thought this was a very bad idea (the CIA and President Johnson thought ALL communists were a bad idea), and came up with a plan to deal with the problem: identify all the communists at once, and maybe get them killed. So the CIA planted information that a shipment of arms was coming in for the PKI. The PKI membership went to go get the arms, and surprise! the military was there waiting for them. between 300,000 and 1 million Indonesians were killed. Most of them were of an ethnic Chinese background that made them easier to spot (unless, of course, they weren't PKI, but just the wrong ethnic background). According to John Stockwell, a former CIA agent, the CIA thought this was a very successful operation at the time. Sukarno was overthrown by General Suharto two years later. Suharto ruled for thirty years and was one of the least nice people in the region. And therefor a friend to the US. We allowed him to invade East Timor during the Ford and Carter administrations (1975), because there were fears that the Timorese were friendly with Communist China. The E Timorese finally gained their independence in 2002, after years of brutal repression and guerrilla warfare.