Another Country Heard From

by dday

If the debate over torture ever gets appealed to the highest court in the land, it's going to go through intellects like this:

The most outspoken judge on the US Supreme Court has defended the use of some physical interrogation techniques.

Justice Antonin Scalia told the BBC that "smacking someone in the face" could be justified if there was an imminent threat.

"You can't come in smugly and with great self satisfaction and say 'Oh it's torture, and therefore it's no good'," he said in a rare interview [...]

In the interview with the Law in Action programme on BBC Radio 4, he said it was "extraordinary" to assume that the ban on "cruel and unusual punishment" - the US Constitution's Eighth Amendment - also applied to "so-called" torture.

"To begin with the constitution... is referring to punishment for crime. And, for example, incarcerating someone indefinitely would certainly be cruel and unusual punishment for a crime."

Justice Scalia argued that courts could take stronger measures when a witness refused to answer questions.

"I suppose it's the same thing about so-called torture. Is it really so easy to determine that smacking someone in the face to determine where he has hidden the bomb that is about to blow up Los Angeles is prohibited in the constitution?" he asked.

"It would be absurd to say you couldn't do that. And once you acknowledge that, we're into a different game.

"How close does the threat have to be? And how severe can the infliction of pain be?"

That these people are so concerned about the bomb that is about to blow up Los Angeles - by the way it's always Los Angeles, since it's a fictitious, Hollywood-style scenario - is touching for this Angeleno, but somehow, I don't believe that he's all that concerned about me. What Scalia really wants is to make sure the horrible judgment and lack of conscience from his duck-hunting buddies doesn't have any consequences.

By the way, Scalia - and his ideological soulmates on the Court - won't be going away after January 2009. This mindset - that human rights are OK for some but not for all, that as long as a crime is ALLEGED and not part of a conviction then you can torture whoever you want, that we should all be so afraid for our lives at every waking moment that it demands setting aside any sort of ethics or values, and that everything a suspected terrorist tells you under duress is absolutely and 100% true - isn't going anywhere.