Thursday, August 16th, 2007
In a Democracy Now! national broadcast exclusive, forensic psychiatrist Dr. Angela Hegarty speaks for the first time about her experience interviewing Jose Padilla for 22 hours to determine the state of his mental health. Padilla is the U.S. citizen who was classified by President Bush as an enemy combatant and held in extreme isolation at a naval brig in South Carolina for over three-and-a-half years. His case is now before a Florida jury. “What happened at the brig was essentially the destruction of a human being’s mind,” said Dr. Hegarty. “[Padilla’s] personality was deconstructed and reformed.” She said the effects of the extreme isolation on Padilla are consistent with brain damage. “I don’t know if he’s guilty or not of the charges that they brought against him,” said Dr. Hegarty. “But, already – before he was ever found guilty – he’s paid a tremendous price for his trip to the Middle East.” [includes rush transcript]
A jury began deliberations on Wednesday in Miami in the case of Jose Padilla, the Brooklyn-born man once accused by the Bush administration of plotting to set off a dirty bomb inside the United States.The FBI initially arrested him in Chicago in 2002 after he got off a plane from Europe. For a month he was held as a material witness. Then Attorney General John Ashcroft made a dramatic announcement – the U.S. government had disrupted an al-Qaeda plot to set off nuclear dirty bombs inside the United States. At the center of the plot, Ashcroft alleged, was Padilla.President Bush then classified Jose Padilla as an enemy combatant, stripping him of all his rights. He was transferred to a Navy brig in South Carolina where he was held in extreme isolation for forty three months.The Christian Science Monitor reported: “Padilla’s cell measured nine feet by seven feet. The windows were covered over… He had no pillow. No sheet. No clock. No calendar. No radio. No television. No telephone calls. No visitors. Even Padilla’s lawyer was prevented from seeing him for nearly two years.”
According to his attorneys, Padilla was routinely tortured in ways designed to cause pain, anguish, depression and ultimately the loss of will to live.
His lawyers have claimed that Padilla was forced to take LSD and PCP to act as a sort of truth serum during his interrogations.
Up until last year the Bush administration maintained it had the legal right to hold Padilla without charge forever. But when faced with a Supreme Court challenge, President Bush transferred Padila out of military custody to face criminal conspiracy charges.
On January 3, 2006 the government charged him and two others with criminal conspiracy. The government claims Padilla, along with his mentor, Adham Amin Hassoun, and Hassoun’s colleague, Kifah Wael Jayyousi, conspired to commit murder abroad and to provide material support toward that goal.
Since May the men have been on trial in Miami. According to the Miami Herald, the overall case against Padilla is riddled with circumstantial evidence. Much of the case is built around an alleged form Padilla filled out to attend an al-Qaeda training camp.
Prosecutors have no introduced no evidence of personal involvement by Padilla in planning or carrying out any violent acts. There is no mention of Padilla – plotting to set off a dirty bomb. Despite this, prosecutors are seeking a life sentence for Padilla.
Questions have also been raised about whether Padilla was mentally fit to stand trial. His lawyers and family say he has become clearly mentally ill after being held in isolation.
Today, we are joined by one of the few medical experts who has spent time with Padilla since his arrest five years ago. Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Angela Hegarty spent 22 hours interviewing Padilla last year to determine the state of his mental health. She concluded that Padilla lacked the capacity to assist in his own defense. Dr. Angela Hegarty is assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University.
- Dr. Angela Hegarty, forensic psychiatrist who spent 22 hours interviewing Jose Padilla last year. She is an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University.
Friday, August 17th, 2007
Jose Padilla’s Attorney Calls Guilty Verdict “Huge Tragedy”, Vows Appeal
Jose Padilla has been convicted in one of the most closely watched trials since the Sept. 11 attacks. On Thursday, a Miami jury found Padilla and two co-defendants guilty of conspiracy to commit murder in Bosnia, Kosovo and Chechnya and providing material support toward that goal. Padilla was initially declared an “enemy combatant” for allegedly plotting to set off a radioactive dirty bomb inside the United States. He was stripped of all rights, transferred to a Navy brig in South Carolina and held in extreme isolation for 43 months. The Bush administration denied him access to an attorney for two years. Faced with a Supreme Court challenge, President Bush announced criminal charges against Padilla unrelated to the dirty bomb plot. Defense attorneys and experts say his isolation and interrogation has led to severe psychological effects. We speak with Padilla attorney Andrew Patel, who calls the verdict “a huge tragedy” and vows an appeal. [includes rush transcript]
A jury in Miami convicted Jose Padilla on Thursday in one of the most closely watched trials since the Sept. 11 attacks. The jury of seven women and five men found Padilla and his two co-defendants guilty of conspiracy to commit murder in Bosnia, Kosovo and Chechnya and providing material support toward that goal. The three men will be sentenced on Dec. 5. Padilla originally made international headlines in 2002 when President Bush declared Padilla an enemy combatant for allegedly plotting to set off a radioactive dirty bomb inside the United States. Padilla was stripped of all rights and transferred to a Navy brig in South Carolina where he was held in extreme isolation for 43 months. Even though Padilla was a U.S. citizen, the Bush administration denied him access to an attorney for two years. Faced with a Supreme Court challenge, President Bush announced criminal charges against Padilla unrelated to the alleged dirty bomb plot. After 43 months of extreme isolation, Jose Padilla was transferred from the South Carolina brig to a civilian prison. Padilla’s attorneys argued that he was unfit to stand trial because of the effects of torture. Forensic Psychiatrist Angela Hegarty examined Padilla last year and concluded the extreme isolation and torture had left Padilla essentially brain damaged. She appeared on Democracy Now yesterday in her first broadcast interview.
- Angela Hegarty: “What happened at the brig was essentially the destruction of a human being’s mind. That’s what happened at the brig. His personality was deconstructed and reformed.”
But the judge allowed the trial to go forward. One of Jose Padilla’s attorneys, Andrew Patel, joins us on the line from Miami.
- Andrew Patel. Attorney for Jose Padilla.
Dissident Members Challenge American Psychological Association on Role in CIA Interrogation, Torture
Democracy Now! broadcasts from San Francisco, where the American Psychological Association is set to hold a historic vote at its annual convention. Following a string of exposes revealing that psychologists have played a key role in designing the CIA’s torture tactics, outraged APA members have introduced a moratorium calling for an outright ban on psychologist involvement in detainee interrogations. We speak with two psychologists at the forefront of the campaign for an interrogation ban, Dr. Stephen Soldz of the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis and Dr. Steven Reisner of New York University. [includes rush transcript]
Here in San Francisco, a group of psychologists are planning to hold a protest today over the refusal of the American Psychological Association to bar its members from participating in interrogations at military and CIA prisons.The protest is occurring on the opening day of the 115h annual APA convention. Unlike the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association allows its members to participate in detainee interrogations.APA representatives argue that the presence of psychologists keeps interrogations safe and prevents abuse. But in recent months, a string of exposes in Salon.com, Vanity Fair and the New Yorker have revealed that psychologists have played a key role in designing the CIA’s torture tactics.
Outraged APA members have introduced a moratorium resolution to be voted on this weekend. It calls for an outright ban on psychologist involvement in detainee interrogations. Dr. Stephen Soldz and Dr. Steven Reisner have been at the forefront of this effort. They are both members of the Coalition for an Ethical APA. They co-wrote an open letter to APA President Sharon Brehm in June of this year urging her to support the moratorium resolution. We invited the APA on the program but they declined our request.
- Dr. Stephen Soldz. Psychoanalyst, psychologist, public health researcher, and professor at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. He is a founder of Psychoanalysts for Peace and Justice and maintains the Psyche, Science, and Society blog.
- Dr. Steven Reisner. Psychoanalyst and a member of the American Psychological Association. He is a faculty member at NYU Medical School and a faculty adviser at the International Trauma Studies Program at Columbia University.
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