Erasing a Stain on America's Legacy

The recent swearing in of Robert Gates as America’s new Secretary of Defense should be the beginning of real change for those prisoners held in U.S. custody at home and abroad.  To that end, the ACLU is urging Secretary Gates to launch investigations into the treatment of those who suffered cruel and inhuman conditions at the hands of the U.S. military, including Jose Padilla.

The New York Times published pictures of Mr. Padilla earlier this month in the midst of sensory deprivation, wearing goggles to block the light and headphones to block any sound.  Additionally, he was subjected to extreme isolation with no natural light, sleep deprivation and had little human contact.  Mr. Padilla was also forced to ingest hallucinogenic drugs.  Such conditions, compounded by sensory deprivation devices, may constitute torture.  In a slap to American values, these tactics were employed on a Navy brig in South Carolina.  These shameful abuses were conducted in America by American forces.

Throughout the Bush administration and the 109th Congress, the Constitution and its guarantees have been severely curtailed and redefined.  America's standing in the world is the lowest ever.  Those labeled “enemy combatants