Photo by Edward F. Palm)

About Me

My photo
Forest, Virginia, United States
A long time ago, my sophomore English teacher, Father William Campbell, saw something in my writing and predicted that I would someday become a newspaper columnist. He suggested the perfect title for my column--"Leaves of the Palm." Now that I have a little extra time on my hands I've decided to put Father Campbell's prediction to the test. I'm going to start using this blog site not just to reprint opinion pieces I've published elsewhere but to try to get more of my ideas and opinions out there. Feedback is welcome. To find out more about me, please check out my Web site: www.EdwardFPalm.com (Click on any of the photos below for an enlarged view.)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Justice Anthony Scalia on Waterboarding

I was appalled to catch an NPR report on Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia's recent justification of waterboarding ("All Things Considered," February 12, 2008). Justice Scalia's position is that, while the Constitution expressly forbids "cruel and unusual punishment," waterboarding conducted in the course of an interrogation is not "punishment"--hence, it is "Constitutional." He went on to justify his position with reference to the worst-case scenario: In order to save countless lives, we may have to do whatever it takes to get a terrorist to reveal where the bomb is hidden.
Scalia's position reminds me of what a friend's mother used to say about certain of life's unavoidable, unpleasant realities: "Everyone knows that, but you don't say it!" Scalia's example represents demagoguery at its worst--invoking the "sum of all fears" to make his point. But what about lesser, more ambiguous situations in which the involvement of the suspect is unclear or uncertain? Would Scalia empower interrogators to set aside the presumption of innocence? I believe that is a slippery slope this country cannot afford to approach. --Edward Palm

No comments: