Remember that one? Back in 2002? Oh yeah, the big firefight at O’Hare Airport that yielded the valuable prisoner of war named Jose Padilla. Shit, that was one for the books! We came under some heavy fire but when the smoke cleared I planted an American flag right at the United check-in and wiped the sweat and dirt from my forehead. Smoked a cig and gave props to Jesus. Had a Billy Goat cheeseburger and dug in for another sleepless night at the baggage carousel.
Padilla was a shady character, for sure; he had to be guilty of something. Exactly what, well, we weren’t sure, but after fitting him with disorienting night goggles and making him stand for days on end, we were sure to get answers. Solitary confinement, torture, and sleep deprivation — you know, good old American interrogation — nothing seemed to work. This son of a bitch wasn’t going down easy, but if this battle taught me anything it’s to not take the enemy for granted.
On the positive side, we certainly broke the man. His mental state is now such that he won’t be engaging in any evil-doing, even if he does go free eventually. But that’s war, man. That’s how it’s got to be. If we lost O’Hare, the what next? Midway? Oh, don’t get me started on the Battle of Midway!
On seeing these photos and reading the story, many Americans will likely ask, how can it be that an American citizen with due-process rights under our Constitution, a citizen who has not been found guilty of the allegations against him by a constitutionally sanctioned authority, was subjected to such treatment? What if he’s innocent?
Padilla, by the way, was not captured on a “battlefield.” He was detained in Chicago. He has a U.S. passport. This could happen to any American anywhere this president decides to call an “enemy combatant.” To be kept in the dark in solitary and treated the way Padilla has been treated without charges being brought … until four years later. It’s unconscionable.
Padilla appears to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and is unable to adequately help prepare his defense … “he often exhibits facial tics, unusual eye movements and contortions of his body” when the subject of his detention comes up.
One man is responsible for this. And he is president of the United States. I am told I am hysterical to be angry about this. But my anger gets deeper the more we know. I simply do not understand why the anger and sense of disgrace is not more widely felt.