America’s Inquisition

Jan 12 2012 @ 12:49pm

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Cullen Murphy connects the original Inquisition, initiated by the Church in the 13th century, to torture under Bush:

The Inquisition, with its stipulation that torture and interrogation not jeopardize life or cause irreparable harm, actually set a more rigorous standard than some proponents of torture insist on now. The 21st century’s Ad extirpanda is the so-called Bybee memo, issued by the Justice Department in 2002 (and later revised). In it, the Bush administration put forth a very narrow definition, arguing that for an action to be deemed torture, it must produce suffering “equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.” To place this in perspective: the administration’s threshold for when an act of torture begins was the point at which the Inquisition stipulated that it must stop.

(Image: "Reliquaries," one of many houses of worship made from ammunition and firearms, by Al Farrow)