The eighth amendment to the US Constitution reads as follows: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”
Recently tactics used to extract information from terrorists has come under heavy scrutiny, as they are being considered torture. If these tactics are indeed deemed to be torture, then they would be in violation of the eighth amendment’s “…nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted” clause.
“Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”
The United States is a country founded on principles, and those principles are what make the US a great nation. Without them, we have nothing. Those principles include the freedom of speech, and of religion, the right to bear arms, and the right against self incrimination. The freedom from cruel and unusual punishments is also included in this list of rights the people retain from the government.
Some people might claim that the US Constitution only applies to US citizens, and therefore the torture was justified in interrogating foreign terrorists. To them, I would question why they think the Constitution only applies to US citizens? The Constitution simply lays out what the government can and cannot do. Not who they can and cannot do something to.
Think about this: a foreign citizen comes to the US on vacation, and witnesses a robbery. Unfamiliar with the laws of the United States, he is afraid to talk to police about what he saw, fearing retaliation from the robber. Should the police be allowed to torture this individual so he provides them with information, just because he’s not an American? I don’t think so.
Granted the severity of a robbery versus a terrorist attack is quite different. Nonetheless, torturing someone to get information about either is still unconstitutional.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t see a problem with using interrogation techniques that are not considered “cruel and unusual” in order to extract information from terrorists. Our intelligence agencies have been effectively interrogating people for years without having to torture them.
I’ve never been subjected to water boarding, which is one of the techniques in question, so I couldn’t say if it would be torture to go through. Is it cruel and unusual? I don’t know. I’m not writing this to determine which techniques are torture and which are not. I’m simply trying to get people to think about how the Constitution applies to this extreme situation, because its unhealthy to not question the government if they are overstepping their bounds.
After all, the government was designed to answer to the people, and not so that the people answer to the government.