Yesterday, the Supreme Court denied the petition filed on behalf of Jose Padilla, an American citizen who was arrested by the FBI in 2002 at Chicago O’Hare airport. The U.S. Government designated Padilla as an enemy combatant and transferred him to a military brig in South Carolina, where he was held for 3 and 1/2 years.
The Bush administration alleged that Padilla was plotting with Al Qaeda to launch a “dirty bomb” attack on a US city. That allegation was later dropped for lack of evidence.
During those years spent in military custody, Padilla was housed in a single cell with blacked-out windows, and he was denied all contact with the outside world. Not even a lawyer was permitted to visit him.
Padilla was also subjected to extreme interrogation tactics. These tactics included isolation, sensory deprivation, being shackled for hours in excruciating pressure positions and subjected to prolonged periods of constant light and then complete darkness.
The controversial measures applied to Padilla were approved at the very highest levels of the U.S. Government.
The ACLU filed a suit on behalf of Padilla against former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, alleging that he violated Padilla’s constitutional rights. But that suit was rejected by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, who held that enemy combatants cannot sue for violations of constitutional rights in U.S. courts.
The ruling effectively prevents any U.S. Government official from being held accountable for torturing an American citizen.
Not only is that bad law, but it is a bad way to run a government.