LatinaLista — The minute President Bush designated Jose Padilla an illegal enemy combatant on June 9, 2002, the Latino community couldn’t distance itself farther from the boy.
Jose’s sad story of being involved in gangs, killing another gang member with a kick in the head, his conversion to Islam and then his friendship with Adham Amin Hassoun — someone federal officials think was supplying money to Al Queda operatives — has all the earmarks of another sad tale of a young Latino who is his own worst enemy.
Except for one thing — the federal government is making it very easy to sympathize with Jose.
So far, Jose is the best catch this government has on its “war against terror” and they have milked him for all he’s worth.
After holding him for three and a half years without charging him for a crime, government officials finally got around to indicting him which meant he could finally be “freed” to face charges.
Throughout his incarceration in the military prison, Jose was subjected to interrogations that were videotaped by military officials.
Yet, the video of the very last interrogation Jose underwent, before leaving the Navy brig where he had been held, is nowhere to be found.
His lawyers surmise that something happened at that last interrogation that makes Jose mistrust his lawyers and consider them government agents. Yet, without that video no one knows exactly what was done to Jose.
The Pentagon and prosecutors don’t seem to be in a hurry to find it.
Why should they?
Maybe on that tape, it will be seen that from the beginning, to bolster support for their neverending declaration that terrorists were still coming to get us, they created “Jose the Terrorist.”
After all, they couldn’t lose the one public face that represents that the government has a handle on capturing terrorists.
Never mind that everything they have accused him of doing such as making dirty bombs and blowing up apartment buildings, they haven’t been able to prove.
Since April 2006, the focus has shifted to Judge Clarke’s courtroom. She dismissed some of the criminal charges against Padilla, finding them insufficiently supported by facts, only to have them reinstated by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
Last week, with Padilla’s case set for trial in April, Judge Clarke turned her attention to Padilla’s claim that he was mentally incompetent to stand trial.
In support of this claim, the defense’s mental health experts testified that Padilla was suffering from post-traumatic syndrome (PTSD), an anxiety disorder suffered by people exposed to an extreme trauma.
People with PTSD experience three different kinds of symptoms: reliving the trauma through flashbacks and dreams; becoming upset when faced with reminders of the traumatic event; and avoiding reminders of the trauma by self-isolation and emotional detachment.
Throughout Jose and his family’s ordeal, the Latino community has not spoken up for the rights of this man. True, he was not a model citizen when he was younger but very many of our young boys can claim the same start in life.
Unfortunately, we can’t fully believe what the government said about Jose either.
Given the track record of this administration and its tendency to inflate or overlook elements of a situation and to bend the rules till they are at the snapping point just to fit their needs, makes this case worthy to be reviewed by Latinos and all Americans.
It’s about time we claim Jose Padilla back in the fold and demand the truth be told about him.