On May 6, 2004, Brandon Mayfield, an Oregon attorney, was arrested by the FBI in connection with the Madrid train bombings. A bag containing detonating devices, found by Spanish authorities, had fingerprints that were initially identified by the FBI as "100% verified" as Mayfield's. But in a subsequent lawsuit Judge Ann Aiken found that this information was largely "fabricated and concocted by the FBI and DOJ". Mayfield was cleared only when the Spanish authorities protested that the fingerprints were not a match.
Louis Greco spent 28 years in jail in Massachusetts for a crime he did not commit, and died behind bars in 1996 at the age of 78. His family was awarded part of a $100 million settlement last year in the largest wrongful conviction award in history. Greco was a World War II double Bronze Star winner who had been framed for murder by the FBI. Judge Nancy Gertner said that the FBI had "encouraged perjury."
With all the safeguards built into our Constitutional system of justice, innocent men are still locked up. When even these safeguards are discarded, the danger increases exponentially. The purpose of pre-trial torture through the kind of isolation now being practiced by the government is destruction of the mind and the capacity and will to defend one's self. It has already been successful in the cases of Fahad Hashmi and Jose Padilla. Now they are working on Bradley Manning.
Hard as it may be to understand without experiencing it, steady quiet, artificial light which makes it impossible to distinguish night from day, and the aloneness with one's own thoughts induce stress and form of insanity. Interaction with other humans, even other prisoners, is a vital part of our touchstones with reality. At the terrorism trial of Fahad Hashmi, held in solitary confinement for 3 years, doctors testified:
"after 60 days' solitary detention people's mental state begins to break down and gradually develops into psychosis as the mind disintegrates."
"over 400 published investigations of the effects of social isolation on primates show such deleterious effects as self-mutilation and disturbances in perception and learning. They found that in adult rhesus monkeys even brief periods of social isolation produce compromised cognitive processing."
Grassian also said:
"McKinney, Suomi and Harlow (1971) produced symptoms of depression in rhesus monkeys by confining them for 30 days.... isolation-produced fear in dogs has been clearly demonstrated (Thompson & Melzack, 1956)."
Fahad Hashmi was accused of helping pass along a pair of waterproof socks and some ponchos to Al Qaeda, by allowing a friend of a friend to stay in his London flat for a week whom he said he did not know, nor what he was up to. For this "material assistance" charge, Hashmi was held in isolation for three years, under the Bush executive order still in effect under Obama entitled Special Administrative Measures (SAMs.)
At his trial, believing he could face yet more solitary confinement, Hashmi pleaded guilty. In a disgusting display of a kangaroo court, Judge Loretta Preska made sure Fahad understood he was guilty, and asked if he was pleading guilty "because you are in fact guilty." Hashmi said "Praise be to God, yes." Like Cool Hand Luke, Hashmi finally had his "mind right." Fahad was sentenced to 15 years.
According to The Christian Science Monitor, during Padilla's 3 1/2 years in isolation:
"his windows were covered over. There was a toilet and sink. The steel bunk was missing its mattress. 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 ... . [Padilla's captors] punctured the extreme sensory deprivation with sensory overload, blasting him with harsh lights and pounding sounds."