Wonderland Wire

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From the Inquisition to Us: A History of Torture

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by James Mandrell

9 May 09 | LAT

The release of Bush administration torture memos proves one thing at least: When those at the highest levels of our government discussed “enhanced interrogation,” they neglected to consider the sordid history of torture.

Had they been interested, they might have discovered an illustrated article on water torture in a popular 19th century Spanish newspaper (I happened on it in Madrid, doing research for my next book). Published in 1836, just two years after Spain abolished the Inquisition, the article noted that torture was still practiced in a few places, although Catherine the Great of Russia outlawed its practice in 1760, as did France’s Louis XVI in the early years of his reign. The article claimed that the principal objection to torture was not necessarily moral or ethical. Torture doesn’t work, it said: “It’s not efficacious.” >>>


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