Friday, August 17, 2007

Menticide and Jose Padilla

Menticide is the destruction -- the murder, really -- of a human being's mind. It's what was done to Jose Padilla, as Lindsay Beyerstein describes in a must-read post published shortly before the verdict in Padilla's trial was announced:

In 1951, psychiatrist Joost Meerloo coined the term "menticide" to describe the kind of systematic psychological violence that the Chinese inflicted upon American POWs during the Korean War. The basic techniques haven't changed much since then. Over the years, these tactics have been embraced by a variety of cults and coercive "treatment" programs in the United States and abroad.

Today, the US government insists that mind-killing is an essential part of their endless war on terrorism. For details, see Jane Mayer's excellent New Yorker piece, The Black Sites.

Lindsay also directs us to Democracy Now!, where Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez spoke with Dr. Angela Hagerty. Dr. Hagerty concluded after a 22-hour interview with Jose Padilla, that Padilla was incapable of taking part in his own defense, and thus was not fit to stand trial. Here is Lindsay quoting from a section of the DN transcript:
Also he had developed, actually, a third thing. He had developed really a tremendous identification with the goals and interests of the government. I really considered a diagnosis of Stockholm syndrome. For example, at one point in the proceedings, his attorneys had, you know, done well at cross-examining an FBI agent, and instead of feeling happy about it like all the other defendants I’ve seen over the years, he was actually very angry with them. He was very angry that the civil proceedings were “unfair to the commander-in-chief,” quote/unquote. And in fact, one of the things that happened that disturbed me particularly was when he saw his mother. He wanted her to contact President Bush to help him, help him out of his dilemma. He expected that the government might help him, if he was “good,” quote/unquote.

Remember, this as well as much else that Dr. Hagerty observed about Padilla's mental state after 3 years in U.S. custody, was accomplished through the use of extremely cruel and brutal isolation and sensory deprivation tactics that U.S. officials copied from countries like Korea and the Soviet Union -- tactics that were used against Americans in the early 1950s (by Korea) and against Soviet citizens by their own government at a time when we considered those governments to be the epitome of evil precisely for the fact that they did such things. Now the Bush administration is finding that these formerly heinous violations of human rights are "necessary tools in the war on terror."

1 comment:

george said...

I do not know what, if anything, Mr. Padilla did that was against the law. But the way his rights were, not violated but, shredded, he needs to be set free.