Greenwald: Jose Padilla and how American justice functions

By: Glenn Greenwald, in Salon.com
Tuesday, Sep 20, 2011

The story of Jose Padilla, continuing through the events of yesterday, expresses so much of the true nature of the War on Terror and especially America’s justice system. In 2002, the American citizen was arrested at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, publicly labeled by John Ashcroft as The Dirty Bomber, and then imprisoned for the next three years on U.S. soil as an “enemy combatant” without charges of any kind, and denied all contact with the outside world, including even a lawyer. During his lawless incarceration, he was kept not just in extreme solitary confinement but extreme sensory deprivation as well, and was abused and tortured to the point of severe and probably permanent mental incapacity (Bush lawyers told a court that they were unable to produce videos of Padilla’s interrogations because those videos were mysteriously and tragically “lost”).

Needless to say, none of the government officials responsible for this abuse of a U.S. citizen on American soil has been held accountable in any way. That’s because President Obama decreed that Bush officials shall not be criminally investigated for War on Terror crimes, while his Justice Department vigorously defended John Yoo, Donald Rumsfeld and other responsible functionaries in civil suits brought by Padilla seeking damages for what was done to him.

As usual, the Obama DOJ cited national security imperatives and sweeping theories of presidential power to demand that Executive Branch officials be fully shielded from judicial scrutiny (i.e., shielded from the rule of law) for their illegal acts (the Obama DOJ: “Here, where Padilla’s damage claims directly relate, inter alia, to the President’s war powers, including whether and when a person captured in this country during an armed conflict can be held in military detention under the laws of war, it would be particularly inappropriate for this Court to unnecessarily reach the merits of the constitutional claims” (emphasis added)).

With one rare exception, federal courts, as usual, meekly complied. Thus, a full-scale shield of immunity has been constructed around the high-level government officials who put Padilla in a hermetically sealed cage with no charges and then abused and tortured him for years.

The treatment Padilla has received in the justice system is, needless to say, the polar opposite of that enjoyed by these political elites. Literally days before it was required to justify to the U.S. Supreme Court how it could imprison an American citizen for years without charges or access to a lawyer, the Bush administration suddenly indicted Padilla — on charges unrelated to, and far less serious than, the accusation that he was A Dirty Bomber — and then successfully convinced the Supreme Court to refuse to decide the legality of Padilla’s imprisonment on the grounds of “mootness.” (he’s no longer being held without charges so there’s nothing to decide).

At Padilla’s trial, the judge excluded all evidence of the abuse to which he was subjected and even admitted statements he made while in custody before he was Mirandized. Unsurprisingly, Padilla was convicted on charges of “supporting Islamic terrorism overseas” — but not any actual Terrorist plots (“The government’s chief evidence was an application form that government prosecutors said Mr. Padilla, 36, filled out to attend an Al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan in 2000”) — and then sentenced to 17 years in prison, all above and beyond the five years he was imprisoned with no due process.

Not content with what was done to Padilla, the Bush DOJ — and then the Obama DOJ — contested the sentence on appeal, insisting that it was too lenient; Padilla also appealed, arguing that the trial court made numerous errors in excluding his evidence while allowing the Government’s. Yesterday, a federal appeals panel of the 11th Circuit issued a ruling, by a 2-1 vote, rejecting each and every one of Padilla’s arguments. It then took the very unusual step of vacating the 17-year-sentence imposed by the trial court as too lenient and, in effect, ordered the trial judge to impose a substantially harsher prison term:

Padilla’s sentence is substantively unreasonable because it does not adequately reflect his criminal history, does not adequately account for his risk of recidivism, was based partly on an impermissible comparison to sentences imposed in other terrorism cases, and was based in part on inappropriate factors …

As the dissenting judge explained, this decision is extraordinary because trial judges — not judges sitting afterward on appeal — are the ones who hear all the evidence and thus have very wide discretion to determine the appropriate sentence. But more so, in this case, a sentence less than the full maximum was warranted because “the trial judge correctly concluded that a sentence reduction is available to offenders who have been subjected to extraordinarily harsh conditions of pre-trial confinement.” About that point, the dissenting judge documented:

Padilla presented substantial, detailed, and compelling evidence about the inhumane, cruel, and physically, emotionally, and mentally painful conditions in which he had already been detained for a period of almost four years. For example, he presented evidence at sentencing of being kept in extreme isolation at he military brig in South Carolina where he was subjected to cruel interrogations, prolonged physical and mental pain, extreme environmental stresses, noise and temperature variations, and deprivation of sensory stimuli and sleep.

In sentencing Padilla, the trial judge accepted the facts of his confinement that had been presented both during the trial and at sentencing, which also included evidence about the impact on one’s mental health of prolonged isolation and solitary confinement, all of which were properly taken into account in deciding how much more confinement should be imposed. None of these factual findings, nor the trial judge’s consideration of them in fashioning Padilla’s sentence, are challenged on appeal by the government or the majority.

Read the rest here at Salon.com.

Obama’s Ongoing Detention Disaster

From: Colorlines
By Catherine Traywick, Oct 21, 2010

(ColorLines) Editor’s note: This post features a round up of reporting about immigration in the independent and progressive media. It is a weekly column produced by The Media Consortium, a network of independent media, including ColorLines.

Last October, the Obama administration’s announced their intention to reform the detention system—to improve the management, medical care and accountability within detention centers, and make better use of low-cost alternatives to detention.

But one year later, a new report by the Detention Watch Network reveals that the “truly civil” detention system once promised by the administration has truly failed to materialize. And while the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been crowing over its record number of deportations, it’s suspiciously mum when it comes to the record number of detainees that still languish in woefully mismanaged detention facilities.

DHS gets an “F”
Elise Foley at the Washington Independent notes that, despite DHS’s assurances that “visible changes have been made” to the system, immigrant rights advocates are critical of the purported reforms.
The Detention Watch Network, which graded DHS on each of its proposed reform initiatives, concluded that the agency has achieved minimal progress and has not substantively improved conditions for the nearly 400,000 immigrants detained every year under “cruel and unusual,” prison-like conditions. DHS received particularly low marks on its promise to utilize low-cost and humane alternatives to detention, such as ankle bracelets or bond release.

Read more here.

Support the Eco-Prisoners (April 2010)

From the Break the Chains blog, an excellent resource re: North American Political Prisoners. Their list appears to be from the Earth Liberation Prisoner Support Network (based in the UK and also a great resource).

——————–

Spirit of Freedom
(April 2010)
Produced by
EARTH LIBERATION PRISONERS SUPPORT NETWORK

"The whole experience has been tough, but all the kind and strengthening words and
wise thoughts from strangers made it much easier!" (Former Swedish Animal Rights
Prisoner)

Welcome to the April 2010 edition of Spirit of Freedom. As we go to print we are
awaiting the sentencing of American eco- activist Steve Murphy who has admitted
conspiracy to commit arson following an attempted arson on a town house which was
claimed by the ELF. Steve is expected to be sentenced very soon and we will send
out the details of his sentence as soon as we have them.

Other major news is that British Animal Rights activist, Mel Broughton was recently
released from prison on Bail! In December 2007 Mel was remanded accused of activity
related to Oxford University (Mel is a well known campaigner against animal abuse
carried out by the University). In Feb 2009 he was sentenced to 10 years
imprisonment because of his campaigning. However last month the Court of Appeal
quashed his charges and he was released on Bail. However he is now expected to face
a new trial in June 2010. ELP will follow this trial and bring you news as we get
it.

The news of Mel’s release is brilliant. But please do not forget the other
prisoners who remain locked up away from their friends and loved ones. All of the
prisoners listed below welcome letters of support. So please, regardless of what
languages you speak and regardless of where you live in the world, please support
the eco-prisoners and no compromise in defence of Mother Earth!

If anyone notices any of ELP's prisoner details is out of date or we do not list a
prisoner who we should list, please let ELP know as soon as possible. ELP is run by
a small group of volunteers and although we try to ensure our lists are accurate, we
admit we do make mistakes. So help us help keep the lists accurate by letting us
know of any changes we need to make.

ECO-DEFENCE PRISONERS

Grant Barnes #137563, San Carlos Correctional Facility, PO Box 3, Pueblo, CO 81002,
USA. Serving 12 years for setting fire to a number of SUV vehicles. The letters ELF
were spray painted onto all of the vehicles. (Grant is a vegan).

Nathan Block, #36359-086, FCI Lompoc, Federal Correctional Institution, 3600 Guard
Road, Lompoc, CA 93436, USA. Serving 7 years & 8 months for an ELF arson against a
Poplar Tree Farm and an ELF arson against an SUV dealership. Also admitted his role
in an ELF/ALF conspiracy. (Diet unknown).

Marco Camenisch, Postfach 3143, CH-8105 Regensdorf, Switzerland. Serving 18 years.
1) Ten years for using explosives to destroy electricity pylons leading from nuclear
power stations. 2) Eight years for the murder of a Swiss Boarder Guard whilst on the
run. In '02 Marco completed a 12-year sentence in Italy for destroying electricity
pylons in Italy. (Marco is a meat eater who encourages organic living).
Leonardo Landi, Carcere San Michele, Via Casale, 50/A, 15122 San Michele (AL),
Italy. Il Silvestre activist awaiting trial accused of robbery.
(Leonardo is a vegetarian).

Marie Jeanette Mason, #04672-061, FCI Waseca, Federal Correctional Institution, PO
Box 1731, Waseca, MN 56093, USA. Serving 21 years and 10 months for her involvement
in an ELF arson against a University Professors Office as the Professor was linked
to Genetically Modified crop testing. Marie also admitted destroying logging
equipment. She also pleaded guilty to conspiring to carry out ELF actions and
admitted involvement in 11 other ELF actions and 1 ALF action. (Marie is a vegan).

Abraham López Martínez (Jailed in Mexico). E-mail letters of support to
cna.mex@gmail.com On remand accused of a series of ELF style activities against
various trucks and businesses. (Abraham is a vegan)

Eric McDavid, 16209-097, FCI Victorville, Medium II, Federal Correctional
Institution, PO Box 5300, Adelanto, CA 92301, USA. Serving 19 years & 7 months for
planning to destroy the property of the U.S. Forestry Service, mobile phone masts
and power plants. At the point of his arrest no criminal
damage has actually occurred. (Eric is a vegan).

Daniel McGowan, 63794-053, USP Marion, US Penitentiary, PO Box 1000, Marion, IL
62959, USA. Serving 7 years for an ELF arson against a Poplar Tree Farm and an ELF
arson against an old growth logging corporation. Also admitted his role in an
ELF/ALF conspiracy. (Daniel is a vegetarian).

Steve Murphy 0910300841, Central Detention Center, 630 East Rialto Ave, San
Bernardino, CA 92408, USA. Awaiting sentencing after admitting Conspiracy to Commit
Arson following an attempted arson at a town house construction site in 2006. The
action was claimed under the banner of the ELF. (Steve is a vegan).

Jonathan Paul - See details in Animal Liberation Prisoners List.

Justin Solondz (Address Unknown - China). American Green Scare defendant accused of
direct action activity in America. Serving 3 years in China for drugs related
offences then due to be deported back to America. His exact prison location is
currently unknown. (Diet unknown).

Jonatan Strandberg, KVA Hällby, Box 100, 64045 Kvicksund, Sweden. Serving 15 months
imprisonment after admitting damaging a communication tower used by the Department
of Defence, cutting the cables on a crane used in creating urban sprawl, and
damaging a vehicle used in the logging industry. (Jonatan is a meat eater).

Michael Sykes 696693, Michigan Reformatory, 1342 West Main Street, Ionia, MI 48846,
USA. Serving four to ten years for anti-sprawl arsons, criminal damage to a utility
pole, spray-painting political graffiti and burning the American flag. (Diet
unknown)

Fermín Gómez Trejo (Jailed in Mexico). E-mail letters of support to
cna.mex@gmail.com On remand accused of a series of ELF style activities against
various trucks and businesses. (Fermin is a vegetarian)

Briana Waters 36432-086, FCI Danbury, Federal Correctional Institution, Route 37,
Danbury, CT 06811, USA. Serving six years for involvement in an ELF arson on a
University. (Diet unknown).

Joyanna Zacher, #36360-086, FCI Dublin, 5700 8th St.- Camp Parks- Unit F, Dublin, CA
94568, USA. Serving 7 years & 8 months for an ELF arson against a Poplar Tree Farm
and an ELF arson against an SUV dealership. Also admitted her role in an ELF/ALF
conspiracy. (Diet unknown).

ANIMAL LIBERATION PRISONERS
(All Animal Liberation Prisoners follow a minimum vegetarian diet and most are vegan).

Jonny Ablewhite TB4885, H.M. Prison, Hewell Lane, Redditch, Worcs B97 6QS, England.
Serving 12 years for attempting to blackmail a farmer who supplied guinea pigs for
vivisection. (Jon is a vegan).

Dan Amos A6987AN, HMP Guys Marsh, Shaftesbury, Dorset, SP7 0AH, England. Serving 4
years for conspiracy to blackmail Huntingdon Life Sciences. (Dan is a vegan)

Gregg Avery TA7450, HMP Coldingley, Shaftesbury Road, Bisley, Woking, Surrey GU24
9EX, England. Serving 9 years for conspiracy to blackmail Huntingdon Life Sciences.
(Gregg is a vegan).

Natasha Avery NR8987, HMP Send, Ripley Road, Woking, Surrey, GU23 7LJ, England.
Serving 9 years for conspiracy to blackmail Huntingdon Life Sciences. (Nat is a
vegan).

Alex Hall, Inmate #2009-06304, Davis County Jail, 800 West State St., Farmington, UT
84025, USA. On Remand accused of raiding a mink farm. Also accused of breaching bail
conditions whilst on bail. (William is a vegan).

Kevin Kjonaas #93502-011, FCI Sandstone, PO Box 1000, Sandstone, MN 55072 USA.
Serving 72 months imprisonment for helping organise the SHAC-USA campaign. (Kevin is
a vegan).

Marie Mason - See details in Eco Defence Prisoners List.
Daniel McGowan - See details in Eco Defence Prisoners List.

Gavin Medd-Hall WV9475, HMP Coldingley, Shaftesbury Road, Bisley, Woking, Surrey
GU24 9EX, England. Serving 8 years for conspiracy to blackmail Huntingdon Life
Sciences. (Gavin is a vegan).

Heather Nicholson A3158AJ, HMP Foston Hall, Foston, Derby, Derbyshire, DE65 5DN,
England. Serving 11 years for conspiracy to blackmail Huntingdon Life Sciences.
(Heather is a vegan).

Kevin Olliff, #1300931, TTCF 161 D-Pod, 450 Bauchet St., Los Angeles, CA 90012, USA.
On remand accused of stalking as well as conspiracy and criminal threats towards
UCLA vivisectors and a company linked to vivisection. (Kevin is a vegan).

Jonathan Paul, #07167-085, FCI Phoenix, Federal Correctional Institution, 37910 N
45th Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85086, USA. Sentenced to 51 months for an ALF arson on a
horse meat plant. Also admitted his role in an ELF/ALF conspiracy. (Jonathan is a
vegan).

Lewis Pogson A6454AK, HMP Lincoln, 106 Greetwell Road, Lincoln, LN2 4BD, England.
Serving 3 years for rescuing 129 rabbits from Highgate Farm. (Lewis is a vegan).

Sergio Stefani - See Other Political Prisoner List.

William James Viehl, Inmate #15909-081, FCI Terminal Island, Po Box 3007, San Pedro,
CA 90731, USA. Serving two years for his role in an ALF raid on a mink fur farm.
(William is a vegan).

Nicole Vosper VM9385, HMP Bronzefield, Woodhthorpe Road, Ashford, Middx, TW15 3JZ,
England. On remand accused of blackmailing Huntingdon Life Sciences. (Nicole is a
vegan).

Dan Wadham, A5705AA, HMP Camp Hill, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 5PB, England.
Serving 5 years for conspiracy to blackmail Huntingdon Life Sciences. (Dan is a
vegan).

Kerry Whitburn TB4886, HMP Lowdham Grange, Lowdham, Nottingham, NG14 7DA, England.
Serving 12 years for attempting to blackmail a farmer who supplied guinea pigs for
vivisection. (Kerry is a vegan).

Sarah Whitehead, VM7684, HMP Bronzefield, Woodthorpe Road, Ashford, Middx, TW15 3JZ,
England. Serving two years for: 1) rescuing a puppy from horrific conditions. 2)
rescuing over 100 animals from a pet breeder who was later prosecuted for animal
abuse. Also awaiting trial for SHAC activity. (Sarah is a vegan)

PLOUGHSHARES PRISONERS

Helen Woodson, 03231-045, FMC Carswell - Admin. Max. Unit, POB 27137, Ft. Worth, TX
76127, USA. Serving 8 years 10 months for actions that focused on the
interrelationship of war & the destruction of the natural world. The actions
included pouring red paint over the security desk of a federal court and making
threatening communications. Previously Helen had served 20½ years for: 1) Using a
hammer to disarm a nuclear missile silo. 2) Burning $25,000 on the floor of a bank
whilst denouncing war, environmental destruction & economic injustice. 3) Mailing
warning letters with bullets attached to Government & corporate officials. (Diet
unknown).

OTHER ANTI-WAR PRISONERS

Elija Smith VP 7551 HMP Lewes, 1 Brighton Rd, Lewes, Sussex, BN7 1EA, England. On
remand accused of disarming a weapons factory, which, amongst other things, makes
Hellfire Missiles. The action was in protest at Israel military action against Gaza.
(Diet unknown).

ANTIFA PRISONERS

Aleksey Bychin, FBU OIK-2 IK-7 otryad No. 7, ul. Karnallitovaya d. 98, g. Solikamsk
Permskiy Kray, 618545 Russia. Serving 5 years for defending himself against
neo-nazis. (Diet unknown).
Andrei Mergenov, FGU IZ 64/1 OKB 2 komn. 73, Up. Kutyakova 107, 410601 Saratov,
Russia. Serving 3 years for fighting with neo-nazis. (Diet unknown)

OTHER PRISONERS

Pavel Delidon, ul. Timiryazeva-1, FGU IK-7, 309990 Valuyki Russia. Anarchist/Animal
Rights activist jailed for attempting to obtain wages owed to him, but which had not
been paid to him by his employer. IMPORTANT: Pavel can only receive letters written
in Russian. He is punished by the prison
if he receives a letter not written in Russian so please, only send letters written
in Russian. (Diet unknown).

Alessandro Settepani, Carcere San Michele, Via Casale, 50/A, 15122 San Michele (AL),
Italy. Co-defendant of Sergio Stefani. Arrested for stealing a car and then remanded
for "Subversive Conspiracy" and remanded into a prison for political activists.
(Alessandro is a vegan).

Sergio Maria Stefani, Carcere San Michele, Via Casale, 50/A, 15122 San Michele (AL),
Italy. Former ALF prisoner arrested for stealing a car and then remanded for
"Subversive Conspiracy" and remanded into a prison for political activists. (Sergio
is a vegan).

Fran Thompson, #1090915, CCC, 3151 Litton Drive, Chillicuthe, MO 64601, USA. Serving
Life for killing, in self-defence, a stalker who had broken into her home. Before
her imprisonment Fran was an eco, animal & anti-nuke campaigner. (Fran is a vegan).

MOVE
MOVE is an eco-revolutionary group who carried out protests in defence of all life.
All move prisoners describe themselves as vegetarians. There are currently eight
MOVE activists in prison each serving 100 years after been framed for the murder of
a cop in 1979. 9th defendant, Merle Africa, died in prison in 1998.

Debbie Simms Africa (006307), Janet Holloway Africa (006308) and Janine Philips
Africa (006309) all at: SCI Cambridge Springs, 451 Fullerton Ave, Cambridge Springs,
PA 16403-1238, USA.

Michael Davis Africa (AM4973) and Charles Simms Africa (AM4975) both at SCI
Graterford, PO Box 244, Graterford, PA 19426-0244, USA.

Edward Goodman Africa (AM4974), SCI Mahanoy, 301 Morea Rd, Frackville, PA 17932, USA.

William Philips Africa (AM4984) and Delbert Orr Africa (AM4985) both at SCI Dallas
Drawer K, Dallas, PA 18612, USA.

Mumia Abu Jamal, (AM8335), SCI Greene, 175 Progress Drive, Waynesburg PA 15370, USA.
In 1981 Mumia, former Black Panther and vocal supporter of MOVE, was framed for the
murder of a cop. He was originally sentenced to death but is currently awaiting
re-sentencing following a court hearing in
2001.

STATEMENT ON VIOLENCE
Some people listed in this newsletter have carried out violent actions including
assault and murder. 'Spirit of Freedom' does not condone violence. But we are also
against censorship & believe people can decide
for themselves who they wish to support.

ABOUT E.L.P. SUPPORT NETWORK
ELP is an international eco-prisoner support network founded, in Britain, in 1993 to
support jailed eco-activists. We support the prisoners by producing various regular
prisoner lists:

Spirit of Freedom is ELP's international monthly prisoner listing which is
circulated by e-mail.

Urgent ELP! Bulletin is an e-mail service that distributes the names of any new
eco-prisoner as soon as ELP gets their details. For more info e-mail
ELP4321@hotmail.com

On-Line Newsletters - ELP has a number of websites that provide news, prisoner lists
and additional info about ELP & the prisoners.

English language ELP Website
www.spiritoffreedom.org.uk

Greek language ELP Website
http://greekelp.blogspot.com

North American ELP Website
www.ecoprisoners.org

Turkish language ELP Website
www.geocities.com/yesilanarsi/elp.htm

ELP Extra is an e-mail group that circulates the details of political prisoners, ELP
learns about, who do not fall within the remit for support by ELP. To subscribe to
the list e-mail ELP4321@Hotmail.com

Australian ELP.SN is our Australian contact. For more info e-mail elp4321@hotmail.com

Belgium ELP.SN is our Belgium contact. For more info e-mail elp_bel@hotmail.com

German ELP.SN is a prisoner led initiative run by eco-prisoner Marco Camenisch. For
more info contact Marco Camenisch, Postfach 3143, CH-8105 Regensdorf, Switzerland.

Greek ELP.SN is our Greek contact. For more info e-mail greekelp@yahoo.gr

North American ELP is our North American contact. For more information e-mail
info@ecoprisoners.org

Turkey ELP.SN is our Turkish contact. For more info e-mail yesilanarsi@yahoo.com


Updated Addresses and corrections:

> ANTIFA PRISONERS
>
> Aleksey Bychin, FBU OIK-2 IK-7 otryad No. 7, ul. Karnallitovaya d. 98, g.
> Solikamsk Permskiy Kray, 618545 Russia. Serving 5 years for defending
> himself against neo-nazis. (Diet unknown).

Please correct address to new subsection:
Aleksey Bychin, FBU OIK-2 IK-7 otryad No. 12, ul. Karnallitovaya d. 98, g.
Solikamsk Permskiy Kray, 618545 Russia

Mail sent to previous address will reach him as well, but only with a delay!

> Andrei Mergenov, FGU IZ 64/1 OKB
> 2 komn. 73, Up. Kutyakova 107, 410601 Saratov, Russia. Serving 3 years for
> fighting with neo-nazis. (Diet unknown)

Few days ago we learned that he is paroled! I just had not time to write in
English yet, we'll put news up to our site (www.avtonom.org/abc) anytime
soon!

> Pavel Delidon, ul. Timiryazeva-1, FGU IK-7, 309990 Valuyki Russia.
> Anarchist/Animal Rights activist jailed for attempting to obtain wages owed
> to him, but which had not been paid to him by his employer. IMPORTANT:
> Pavel can only receive letters written in Russian. He is punished by the
> prison if he receives a letter not written in Russian so please, only send
> letters written in Russian. (Diet unknown).