Jose Padilla, labeled an enemy combatant by the Bush administration and tortured, has lost his lawsuit against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, opening the door for thought crime.
The ACLU is appealing the dismissal of Jose Padilla’s lawsuit against Donald Rumsfeld and other Bush administration officials for torture.
Jose Padilla’s case has been a tricky one for the courts, but not so for the Bush adminstration. Bush immediately had Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld designate Padilla an enemy combatant, which allowed the administration to bypass due process to which Jose Padilla—as an American citizen—was entitled.
He was accused of essentially agreeing to agree to plan a future attack on American soil. His was a thought crime. Now, maybe Padilla would have followed through on his thought crime at some point; but, ultimately, he committed no crime. And perhaps the Bush administration did America a favor by detaining Padilla, but that doesn’t excuse the constitutional violations in this case.
With his lawsuit conviction in civilian court and now the February dismissal of his lawsuit against Rumsfeld, the ACLU’s Ben Wizner is right in stating in the appeal, “If the law does not protect Jose Padilla — an American citizen arrested on American soil and tortured in an American prison — it protects no one.” What has been created, whether we want to believe it or not, are the conditions for pre-crime measures against thought crimes to be perfectly defensible by the state (under the US Executive Branch, in this case).
Couple this with the CIA’s investment in pre-crime, predictive internet technology, and any whiff of conspiracy will allow the government to declare American citizens enemy combatants, detain them in military brigs, torture and then release such individuals with impunity. Ironically, Google—who’s motto is “Don’t be evil”—is investing alongside the CIA in a pre-crime project called Recorded Future. (See also: The pre-crime arrest of British activist Charlie Veitch.)
Do the vast majority of US citizens need to fear this sort of state activity? Probably not. But if the time ever comes for another American Revolution—if things in America get so bad politically that revolt is necessary—it’s a near certainty that the tactics used against Padilla will be used to round up revolutionaries.
Download the PDF of the appeal here.