The Bush administration responded forcefully today to critics of “aggressive interrogation”, known euphemistically as “torture lite.” Critics, including the FBI, have alleged that torture is ineffective and does not elicit quality information from suspects. The Bush administration has pointed out, however, that these techniques have been extremely effective in the past. Notably, press secretary Tony Snow said, torture saved Europe from witches in the past and can save us from terrorism today. Specifically, Snow said, “In the Middle Ages and into the seventeenth-century, Europe was plagued by witches swearing pacts with Satan and casting spells that killed many people and cattle. Faced with this menace, inquisitors turned to aggressive interrogation methods, called torture by some, to uncover these plots. The result? They discovered innumerable covens of witches who were in league with Satan and they uncovered entire networks of witch sleeper cells. If we look at Europe today, we can see that there is no serious threat from witches, and we have the aggressive interrogation techniques of the inquisitors to thank for that.” A spokesman for the Vatican noted that the inquisitors did not actually torture and execute suspect, but rather they were rendered to the civil authorities and the Church could not be blamed for what they did. The Church, the spokesman noted, could not be responsible for torture committed on its behalf by authorities to which suspects were rendered.
Snow cited many examples of plots that were only uncovered when more aggressive techniques were employed. Soon after taking up the struggle against witchcraft, inquisitors of the papal inquisition found a woman who confessed to giving birth to a monster after having intercourse with a demon. Furthermore, plague spreaders posed a major threat throughout Europe as well. The same investigative process uncovered many cases of plague-spreader cells that made pacts with the Devil to spread plague and kill Christians. Snow noted that just as extreme danger from terrorists using biological weapons called for severe solutions in the sixteenth century, so to does it in the twentieth century. “Because of the will of inquisitors and civil authorities to track down these covens and cells, we no longer worry about plague spreaders and witches who have made pacts with Satan to kill Christians.” It would be naive, Snow added, to think that such hardened witches and Satanists would have given themselves up to simple questioning. “Then, as now, the safety of God-fearing people and liberals too, depended on aggressive interrogations to uncover plots to have sex with the Devil, eat Christian babies and use biological weapons. Can we really afford to turn our backs on what worked in the Middle Ages.”