According to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a prisoner who was slammed to a concrete floor and punched and kicked by a guard after asking for a grievance form -- but suffered neither serious nor permanent harm -- has no claim that his constitutional rights were violated.
If he were to look at his own reflection, he'd say, "Peekaboo! I see Yoo!"
The court's decision came a few days after Thomas' now-famous former law clerk John C. Yoo was charged with flawed reasoning, but not professional misconduct, as a Justice Department lawyer when he applied much the same view toward the treatment of Al Qaeda prisoners.
Um, that would be "alleged Al Qaeda" prisoners. Not every prisoner was affiliated with a terrorist group. Now, let's compare and contrast:
In the so-called torture memos in 2002, Yoo reasoned that subjecting prisoners to simulated drowning or "stress positions" in cold cells was not illegal torture because it did not cause the intense pain of a serious injury, equivalent to "death or organ failure."
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the cruelest of them all?
It's a tie.
Let's not leave out Scalia. That would be rude:
Thomas' consistent record of dismissing claims of prison brutality, most of them joined by Justice Antonin Scalia, shows that Yoo's view of torture was not that of a rogue lawyer. Instead, it represents a strain of conservative thinking that looks back in history to define cruelty and torture, rather than toward what the court has called the "evolving standards of decency."
Over two decades, Thomas and Scalia have repeatedly dissented when the court ruled for prisoners who alleged they were subjected to cruelty.
Alleged? Is this what they mean by "alleged"?
The two justices explained that the word "punishment" as it was used in the English Bill of Rights in 1689 referred to judges imposing punishment for a crime. Prison guards do not impose "punishment" even if they mete out cruelty, they said.
Ohhh, of course... the legal system stands corrected. How could so many have been so wrong all this time? Scalia, Thomas, and Yoo clearly have the letter of the law down pat... allegedly. The rest of us are dead wrong:
When asked about torture and cruelty toward prisoners, he discounted the possibility. "Has anyone ever referred to torture as punishment? I don't think so," Scalia said. "What's he punishing you for? He's trying to extract" information, he said.
And that justifies everything. America, and all those tortured-- not punished-- prisoners can breathe easy now.
All my previous posts on this subject matter can be found here; That link includes one specific to only Fayiz al-Kandari's story here. Here are audio and video interviews with Lt. Col. Wingard, one by David Shuster, one by Ana Marie Cox, and more. My guest commentary at BuzzFlash is here.
Lt. Col. Barry Wingard is a military attorney who represents Fayiz Al-Kandari in the Military Commission process and in no way represents the opinions of his home state. When not on active duty, Colonel Wingard is a public defender in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
If you are inclined to help rectify these injustices: Twitterers, use the hashtag #FreeFayiz. We have organized a team to get these stories out. If you are interested in helping Fayiz out, e-mail me at The Political Carnival, address in sidebar to the right; or tweet me at @GottaLaff.
If you'd like to see other ways you can take action, go here and scroll down to the end of the article.
More of Fayiz's story here, at Answers.com.