CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Justice Scalia Stands Behind Physical Interrogation in Certain Cases

Court_front_med From - Conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said on Tuesday some physical interrogation techniques can be used on a suspect in the event of an imminent threat, such as a hidden bomb about to blow up.


In such cases, "smacking someone in the face" could be justified, the outspoken Scalia told the BBC. "You can't come in smugly and with great self satisfaction and say 'Oh it's torture, and therefore it's no good.'"


His comments come amid a growing debate about the Bush administration's use of aggressive interrogation methods on terrorism suspects rights after the September 11 attacks, including the use of a widely condemned interrogation technique known as waterboarding.


Scalia said that it was "extraordinary" to assume that the U.S. Constitution's ban on "cruel and unusual punishment" 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," he said in an interview with the Law in Action program on BBC Radio 4.


Scalia said stronger measures could be taken 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. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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