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Analysis – Dr Aafia to Be Sentenced


Aafia Siddiqui will Be Sentenced on Thursday, Sep 23

By: ondelette Tuesday September 21, 2010 3:23 pm     

Thursday Morning at 8:45, at 500 Pearl St. in Manhattan, in Room 21D, Judge Berman’s Court, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui will be sentenced. She is facing 30 years to life. People that are there might show up to pay their respects, there is no way justice will have been served.

I’m not from New York. So I don’t know how much of an effort it would be to travel down to the U.S. District Court in Foley Square on Thursday Morning during rush hour to show respect for Aafia Siddiqui as she gets sentenced. I’ve heard no talk of appeals, I do know that after some rather vicious charges in Pakistan that the government had acted in bad faith and never actually tried to get her back, Rehman Malik, the Interior Minister did send a letter to Eric Holder this past week asking that she be repatriated immediately to Pakistan under the Convention on Extradition of Prisoners on humanitarian grounds.

Tina Foster, of the International Justice Network, who represents her family, has maintained since her trial in February that only by getting her back to Pakistan would she have any chance at real justice, there won’t be any such chance in the United States. My belief is that her lawyers needed consent from her for an appeal and that she may have not given them that. The fact that Judge Berman ruled her competent to aid in her own defense has crippled that effort, but more importantly, some have also charged, they are in the employ of the government of Pakistan, and it may not have wanted to fund such an appeal. The latter we may or may not ever know, unless one of them comes forward, perhaps Charles Swift will tell us.

So my deepest feeling is that this may be the end unless she is repatriated, and if she goes off to maximum security prison, the U.S. government will have successfully have squelched any further means of knowing about the abduction and torture of this woman and her three children in this country, unless her two children find a way to use their American citizenship to level charges here someday.

Her son’s testimony to the Pakistani special investigator was leaked to Yvonne Ridley and she read it on cageprisoners. He says that he was abducted by people from another car when they were on their way to Islamabad (in 2003) and he was rendered unconscious by a cloth, he saw his brother in blood. He also says that an American consular official also told him that he was and American citizen, that his mother was Aafia Siddiqui, and that his brother was dead (presumably in 2008 when he was returned to his aunt).

This information matches what Aafia Siddiqui told her lawyers according to Elaine Sharpe (one of her lawyers), and still, on the request of the prosecution lawyers, her lawyers were not allowed to introduce their belief that Ms. Siddiqui’s behavior in the courtroom was in part the product of psychological trauma suffered during 2003-2008, on grounds that it had been discredited during her competency hearings.

But during her competency hearings, the "discrediting" was based on written notes of FBI interrogators who interrogated Ms. Siddiqui under duress at Bagram without Mirandizing her, in 4 point restraints, and refused to tell her information about her children. She displayed hypnagogic delusions or hallucinations and other symptoms consistent with psychological reactions to solitary confinement that worsened from July 18 to October 2008 when she was informed that her sister had been given custody of her son, at which time the symptoms ameliorated.

In other words, the basis for disqualifying the information that a corroborating deposition was in the hands of the Pakistani investigators that the defense explanation for her behavior had merit, and also that a credible allegation of torture had been made in a U.S. courtroom, was being dismissed due to interrogation notes taken in conditions that amounted to cruel treatment.

I’m sorry, but Judge Berman, who also wrote in his competency decision that while it is the decision of the defense attorney many times whether or not a defendant will take the stand at a trial, all defendants must have the right to take the stand at a competency hearing if they wish, and then denied Ms. Siddiqui the opportunity to take the stand at her competency hearing, ruined any semblance of justice in dealing with the issue of torture at this trial. He denied defense requests to have her transferred to Bellevue for her psych exam, where they would have been equipped to do an Istanbul Protocol examination, and instead sent her to Carswell, he called in "experts" who had written extensively on using psychological techniques to combat the spread of jihadi terrorism in prisons as his competency psychiatrists to repudiate the initial findings of incompetency from Carswell, when the government didn’t get the competency result they wanted.

From start to finish there was going to be one and only one verdict, and that was the one that would put Aafia Siddiqui where she could not talk about what was done to her, to her children, and to whatever happened to American beliefs in the Constitution, the Geneva Conventions, and the basic decency of human rights.

If you are in Manhattan on Thursday Morning, and can do so, please show your respects. I don’t know what else to call it, since calling for justice seems beyond what seems possible in Foley Square any more for this woman. What a shame. This country used to stand for something.

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