The new science of interrogation is not, in fact, so new at all: “extraordinary rendition” and “enhanced interrogation” and “waterboarding” all spring directly from the practices of the medieval Roman Catholic Church. The distance, in both technique and ideology, between the Inquisition’s interrogation regime and 21st-century America’s is uncomfortably short—and provides a chilling harbinger of what can happen when moral certainty gets yoked to the machinery of torture.
I have in the past had occasion to research both the Spanish and Mexican Inquisitions. I already knew our modern techniques had their roots in a long history of torture. This lays it all out and is a fascinating examination of human evil and cruelty performed in the name of righteousness.
In fact, I thought back immediately to the Spanish Inquisition when reading about The Patriot Act for the first time. You see, during the time of the Inquisition anyone could make an accusation that would lead to their enemy being tortured. Neighbors who wished to get rid of pesky neighbors had only to accuse and a thorn in their side would be gone, never to return. So when I read that the provisions of The Patriot Act would apply to anyone suspected of terrorism, a chill went down my spine. It's not that difficult to plant suspicion and even frame someone and get them picked up and locked away with no lawyer and no word to their families about where they are. I think a lot of people let it go because they assumed it would be used only against foreign nationals (and, I add cynically, those with brown skin) and not against Euro-Americans. However, law enforcement quickly saw the possibilities of using the provisions against "Eco" terrorists and white supremacist militias, especially regarding surveillance. If you've attended any environmental protests or events and someone has it in for you, you are not immune to being picked up yourself, just as one example. I'm not normally a conspiracy theorist by any means, but if you create a situation where people can choose to frame you and your rights have already been eroded, don't be surprised if someday the loss of freedom you weren't concerned about when you thought it applied to others bites you in the ass.
I am sure most of my readers are with me on objecting to things like The Patriot Act and the NDAA, and have written to representatives objecting to them (also the overreach of the TSA). If you haven't thought about these things yet, you might want to take a moment to register your concern. It's easy to find your representatives and senators online.
"The Senate on Thursday decided to leave unanswered a momentous question about constitutional rights in the war against Al Qaeda: whether government officials have the power to arrest people inside the United States and hold them in military custody indefinitely and without a trial. "
"...Before voting to leave current law unchanged, the Senate rejected, 55 to 45, a proposal by Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, to instead say that Americans are exempt from detention under the 2001 authorization to use military force." (see link, below)