Did the Supreme Court Make Things Worse for Future Enemy Combatants?


There's a lot worth thinking about in Justice Antonin Scalia's harsh Boumediene v. Bush dissent, but one passage jumped out right away. After noting that the Bush administration used the naval base at Guantanamo Bay precisely because it believed that enemy combatants would not enjoy habeas corpus and other constitutional rights while being held there, Justice Scalia suggests the following: "Had the law been otherwise, the military surely would not have transported prisoners there, but would have kept them in Afghanistan, transferred them to another of our foreign military bases, or turned them over to allies for detention." Here's the kicker: "Those facilities might well have been worse for the detainees themselves."

Given that "allies" such as Egypt and Syria regularly torture their prisoners, I'd certainly agree that things "might well have been worse" elsewhere. But isn't Justice Scalia contradicting President Bush, who famously declared that "torture is never acceptable, nor do we hand over people to countries that do torture." And maybe I'm reading too much into it, but Scalia's words sure sound like an implied threat. You liberals think Guantanamo is bad? Next time you won't even know where the prisoners are held.