Thursday, December 08, 2005
Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition!
Andrew Sullivan points out two interesting passages today. The first is from Dogs of God: Columbus, the Inquisition, and the Defeat of the Moors, and describes Torquemada's methods:
When the rack did not produce the desired result, the churchmen turned to the water torture. In this hideous remedy, the prisoner was tied to a ladder that was sloped downward, so that the head was lower than the feet. The head was held fast in position by a metal band, twigs were placed in the nostrils, and ropes winched tightly around his appendages. The mouth was forced open with a metal piece and a cloth placed over the mouth. Then a pitcher of water was brought, and water poured over the cloth. With each swallow, the cloth was drawn deeper into the throat, until in gagging and choking the victim nearly asphyxiated. The terror of suffocation was extreme, and the process was repeatedly endlessly, bloating the body grotesquely until the victim was ready to confess ... From the inquisitor's standpoint — for he was there to record every detail — the treatment was easy to administer and left no telltale signs.The second passage is from the CIA's description of "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques":
The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt.As Sullivan points out, we don't make our prisoners swallow the cellophane. The rest of the experience is identical. And note that Torquemada saw this as worse than the rack. Here's what it looks like. But as our president so helpfully reminds us, we do not torture. And neither did Torquemada, as long as he was waterboarding. Your tax dollars at work, ladies and gentlemen.