[Ppnews] Scalia says courts shouldn't prohibit torture

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Feb 12 18:15:54 EST 2008

Scalia says courts shouldn't prohibit torture


02/12/2008 @ 12:06 pm

Filed by Nick Juliano

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia rejected the notion that US 
courts have any control over the actions of American troops at 
Guantanamo Bay, argued that torture of terror detainees is not banned 
under the US Constitution and insisted that the high court has no 
obligation to act as a moral beacon for other nations.

"We don't pretend to be some Western Mullahs who decide what is right 
and wrong for the whole world," Scalia told a BBC interviewer 
Tuesday, defending narrow interpretation of the reach the US 
Constitution gives the nine justices on the country's high court.

Scalia said it was "extraordinary" to suggest that the 8th Amendment, 
which prohibits the government from engaging in "cruel and unusual 
punishment," could be applied to the actions of US interrogators 
questioning foreign subjects detained overseas. In his view, Scalia 
said that while the 8th Amendment would prohibit locking up someone 
indefinitely as punishment for a crime, for example, the CIA or 
military would be perfectly justified keeping a suspected insurgent 
or member of al Qaeda imprisoned forever if the detainee refused to 
answer questions.

"Is it obvious that what can't be done for punishment can't be done 
to extract information that is crucial to the society?" Scalia asked.

In the 
interview, which aired on Radio 4's Law in Action, Scalia suggested 
that it would be inappropriate for the court to deliberately outlaw 
certain tactics, such as waterboarding. (The Bush administration 
recently acknowledged using the simulated drowning procedure at least 
three times on terror detainees.) Scalia said tactics critics have 
described as torture could be usable in so-called "ticking time bomb" 
scenarios or even when such a pressing deadline does not exist.

"It may not be a bomb in LA," he said. "But it may be, where is this 
group [believed to be plotting an attack on the US]?"

This audio is from BBC's Radio 4, broadcast February 12, 2008.


Scalia in uncompromising form
BBC Radio 4's Law In Action
Tuesday 12 February 1600 GMT
On Radio 4 and online
Latest programme

Law in Action has a rare, extended interview with Antonin Scalia, the 
most outspoken and acerbic of Justices on the US Supreme Court.

In a wide-ranging discussion, he defends his often controversial 
positions on issues like Guantanamo Bay, argues that torture may be 
legal and attacks the "sick" practice of televising trials.

Justice Scalia is often described as the most conservative member of 
the court - but it's a charge he denies.

Instead, he says he's an "originalist," which means he interprets the 
text of the US Constitution as it was written.

He both attacks and mocks the idea that the Constitution is a "living 
document" which needs reinterpreting in the light of social change.

Judicial views that divide America

I think there's just something sick about making entertainment out of 
real people's legal troubles.
Justice Scalia in his interview with Law in Action

He has made many decisions in favour of the rights of criminal 
defendants, and has ruled that burning the US flag is legal, although 
he adds that if he were king, he would "throw flag burners in jail".

Justice Scalia has ruled against the right to abortion and in favour 
of the death penalty.

He says there is nothing in the Constitution that grants women the 
right to an abortion.

The death penalty, he argues, is not covered by the 8th Amendment's 
ban on "cruel and unusual punishment."

He points out that at the time the Constitution was written, 
execution was the only penalty for felonies, and therefore cannot be 
excluded by the amendment.

Justice Scalia says that it is far from clear that torture is 
unconstitutional and says that it may be legal to "smack [a suspect] 
in the face" if the suspect is concealing information which could 
endanger the public.

He criticises the politicisation of the process of appointing Supreme 
Court Justices, but blames this on the court for being too flexible 
in interpreting the Constitution.

This means that politicians want to appoint a judge who will "write 
the new constitution that you like."

Law In Action will be broadcast on Tuesday 12 February 2008 at 1600 
GMT on BBC Radio 4.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://freedomarchives.org/pipermail/ppnews_freedomarchives.org/attachments/20080212/1d90df9b/attachment.html>

More information about the PPnews mailing list