Witches and Terrorists

I was recently reading this blog post about how they used to torture women suspected of being witches until they "confessed" as such. I thought there was an interesting similarity to some techniques used hundreds of years ago against witches and some of the techniques we heard about in the news used against terror suspects:

"Having taken the suspected Witch, shee is placed in the middle of a room upon a stool, or Table, crosse legg'd, or in some other uneasie posture, to which if she submits not, she is then bound with cords, there is she watcht & kept without meat or sleep for the space of 24. hours."

I thought it was interesting that if you substituted "witch" for "terrorist", you would have one of the techniques used to get terrorists to "confess" by putting them in uncomfortable positions for a long period of time.

"in the long run there perhaps nothing was so effective as the tormentum insomniae, the torture of artificial sleeplessness which has been revived in our day. Even those who were stout enough to resist the estrapade would yield to the resolute application of this slower but more certain form of torture, and confess themselves to be witches. (The Crisis of the Seventeenth Century, 121)"

Here again "confession" is obtained from the witch (or terrorist) through sleep deprivation, a technique reportedly used against suspected terrorists.

There is no place in our society for coercive interrogation techniques. Contemporary interrogation techniques are much more effective at obtaining the truth from people, eliciting information and extracting confessions, and they are of course, more ethical. 

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