Documents show US military feared for detainees' mental condition

[JURIST] US military officers feared for the mental health of alleged terrorism detainees held in isolation in the US, according to documents [ACLU materials; press release] received through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and released Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website]. The materials released Wednesday are a collection of heavily redacted e-mail communications between unidentified US military officials involved in the detention of alleged terrorism suspects Yaser Hamdi, Jose Padilla, and Ali al-Marri [JURIST news archives] at US Navy brigs in Virginia and South Carolina. In one e-mail found in the released documents [materials, PDF], an unidentified US official expressed concern over Hamdi's mental health due to his imprisonment, saying:

I saw the detainee this morning during routine daily rounds and found him to be in low spirits and somewhat depressed. ... He indicated he feels very stressed due to his incarceration and being here now for almost (14) [sic] months, with no news pertaining to his future. ... He went on to indicate that he feels as if he has been forgotten and that no one is working on getting him freed. ... He indicated that he would continue to endure, but he did not leave me with a good impression that he is capable of going on much longer. ... I know I can not give him any false hope, but I fear the rubber band is nearing its breaking point here and not totally confident [sic] I can keep his head in the game much longer. I will continue to monitor his behavior and get the [redacted] onboard [sic], but fear that once this individual decides to go south, there will be little if anything, [sic] I can do to bring him back around. I have directed my staff to pay close attention to his behavior, to pick up their discussions with him and that I will conduct evening rounds in an effort to assure him we are concerned about his state of mind and health and welfare
AP has more.

Hamdi, a former US citizen, Padilla, a current US citizen, and al-Marri, a citizen of Qatar who had legal residency in the US, were all originally designated as enemy combatants [JURIST news archive] by the US government following their apprehension. Hamdi was released to Saudi Arabia [JURIST report] in 2004, and renounced his US citizenship. Padilla, who was originally apprehended in connection with an alleged plot to detonate a "dirty bomb" in the US, saw his status changed from enemy combatant to criminal defendant in 2005 when he was charged with terrorism conspiracy charges. He was convicted of those charges [JURIST report] in August 2007, and is currently serving a 17-year sentence at a federal "supermax" prison in Colorado. Al-Marri is still in US detention at the US Naval brig in Charleston, South Carolina, as an enemy combatant. His indefinite detention was upheld [JURIST report] in July by the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which held that if the government's allegations against him are true, the President is empowered by Congress to hold al-Marri in a military prison without charge as an enemy combatant. Al-Marri was arrested at his home in Peoria, Illinois by civilian authorities in 2001, and was indicted for other crimes. In 2003, President George W. Bush declared him an enemy combatant [CNN report] and ordered the attorney general to transfer custody of al-Marri to the defense secretary, claiming inherent authority to hold him indefinitely. Al-Marri has claimed abuse [JURIST report] while being held in the Charleston Navy brig.


 

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