Tuesday, February 12, 2008


When a sitting Supreme Court Justice defends acts of torture, how can anyone ever again criticize Bush and Cheney? They have a rock-solid defense. What we did and what we ordered, for example, waterboarding, is perfectly justifiable and beyond all legal question. Why? Because, Antonin Scalia, Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, backs us up and gives us legal cover.

In okaying torture and waterboarding, Scalia is truly reprehensible and without morals. Here is what he said according to the BBC:

"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."

Scalia uses the example of a nuclear bomb hidden somewhere in Los Angeles in his attempt to justify 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?""

The problem is, Justice Scalia, suppose you torture the wrong person? Suppose you think that your suspect knows, but what happens if he really doesn't? Isn't this the same with the Inquisition where the Church handed over "heretics" to the ruling civil authorities who then used waterboarding or the rack to make them tell the "truth"? Suppose you yourself, Justice Scalia, were suspect and the authorities then waterboarded you to make you tell what you knew? Would you tell them that you were part of the 9/11 hijacking conspiracy? Would you tell them where the bomb in L.A. was hidden? Or would you allow them to torture you to death.

I suspect that Justice Scalia would be soon singing, telling his torturers what he thought that they wanted to hear, just to make them stop. Scalia calls it "so-called torture," so I guess he really doesn't think waterboarding qualifies. Why then, let's do it to him as a judicial experiment.

1 comment:

  1. The problem with Justice Scalia's ruling concerning the waterboarding is not new to the activist judicial court. I characterise it as willfully altering the substance and essence of things as well as politicizing morality. What Justice Scalia and his conservative gang want is control at all expense. They do not want to admit that certain acts and commisions by their very nature are just independent of their context, that there are certain things that are not recategorizable no matter what and how politcally or philosophically we view them. For instance, fire causes burn, a knife stabbing is painful, a prolonged detention is as painful as a criminal sentence. With what intentions we commit those acts does not change and has no bearing on the fact they continue to be just as painful under any other circumstance. It is not up to Justice Scalia or anyone else to redefine the naturall pain inherent in those acts. Frivilous and apologatic technicalities of context and circumstances never change the substance of those acts and commissions. Fire will always burn and will always cause severe pain no matter how good our intentions are when we apply it at the human corpse. Fire by its very nature does not change because it is applied day or night, by a male or female, a government or a civilian, for a percieved good purpose or evil one. Knife stabbing is just as painful and barbaric whether it is done by Charlie Manson or by Jack Kevorkian. The cruelity and pain inherent in waterboarding does not change becuase it is done by a criminal gang, a prison guard, an interrogating officer, or even by a loving concerned parent who is trying to descipline his child. The fact that the constitution has a ban against cruelity of punishment only in the context of post-conviction, assuming that Justice Scalia were correct in his limitation, does not mean that the same degree of cruelity is not inherent in pre-conviction by the same act or commission. Nor does it mean that the constitution places a limitation on the ban against cruel and unusual punishment. It is the degree of pain inflicted that the constitution is against, and mere technical differences Scalia's school of thought clings to do not affect the level of pain inherent in those acts. This is not the first time the Supreme Court as well as the Circuit Courts of Appeal rendered frivilous distinctions in the circustances as to justify grave violations by state and federal agencies. Indefinite detention was ruled out before as a punitive measure simply because it was not meant to be! Excludible aliens are not considered "persons" under the consitution, and many other fictitious categorizations. This is a flawed logic in as much as (P implies Q) does NOT mean that also (~P implies Q.) Post-conviction is not a limitation against the ban; it is only one circumstance in which the consitution forbids cruel and unusual punishment. Any politically saavy individual who knows what is going on underneath those odd judicial rulings, can immediately feel the pressure our executive bransh is exerting on the supposedly separate and independent judical branch. There is no guarantee than any government ever be modest, righteous, and serving the interest of the public, not just the interest of the elite and wealthy, and that although so dramatic is not as dramatic as the loss of our highiest moral authority, the Supreme Court to the trap of revolving politics. This is a clear example of that.