(Via Jeralyn at TalkLeft)
US Gov't broke Padilla through intense isolation, say experts
Despite warnings, officials used 43 months of severe isolation to force Jose Padilla to tell all he knew about Al Qaeda.
By Warren Richey Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
from the August 14, 2007 edition
Miami - When suspected Al Qaeda operative Jose Padilla was whisked from the criminal justice system to military custody in June 2002, it was done for a key purpose – to break his will to remain silent.
As a US citizen, Mr. Padilla enjoyed a right against forced self-incrimination. But this constitutional guarantee vanished the instant President Bush declared him an enemy combatant.
By April 2003, Padilla had already spent 10 months in isolation at the brig. Ultimately, he was housed in the same cell, alone in his wing, for three years and seven months, according to court documents.
Those who haven't experienced solitary confinement can imagine that life locked in a small space would be inconvenient and boring. But according to a broad range of experts who have studied the issue, isolation can be psychologically devastating. Extreme isolation, in concert with other coercive techniques, can literally drive a person insane, these experts say. And that makes it a potential instrument of torture, they add.
Fear of "brainwashing" prompted the CIA and Defense Department to underwrite research in the 1950s and '60s into the impact of isolation and sensory deprivation. The findings were included in a 1963 CIA handbook, later declassified. The book discusses the possible use of such techniques, including isolation. But it warns of the "profound moral objection" of applying "duress past the point of irreversible psychological damage."
That's what happened in Padilla's case, says Grassian. "It is clear from examining Mr. Padilla that that limit was surpassed."
"It is clear that the intent of this isolation was to break Padilla for the purpose of the interrogations that were to follow," says Stuart Grassian, a Boston psychiatrist and nationally recognized expert on the debilitating effects of solitary confinement. Dr. Grassian conducted a detailed examination of Padilla for his lawyers.