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History’s Most Famous Psychopaths: Tomás de Torquemada

In Seville, the Inquisition commandeered one of the major fortresses of the city for its activities there. And in , the giant step of making the Inquisition an official council of government was taken. The fact that the Inquisition was thus so clearly able to insinuate itself as part of the emerging national institutions of Spain, rather than an arm of Vatican jurisdiction, is a clue as to the special power it exerted.

Isabel and Fernando were determined to build the force of an emerging nation in all areas, including emphatically in curbing the reach of secular power of Rome into Spain, and in confronting the legacy of corruption and demoralization in the Church, carried over from the extended period of Church breakdown in the period.

Similar efforts, of course, were proceding from the faction of Cusa in the Vatican apparatus, overlapping the emerging set of reforms identified with Erasmus of Rotterdam. Thus there is no easy way to characterize the intricacies of this "fault line," either in Spain or in such other "nation-state laboratories" as France and England of the time. Suffice to say that the upshot in Spain, was that, having given their consent to the establishment of an Inquisition in Castile, and a revived Inquisition in Aragon, the Monarchs were assiduous for these reasons in keeping the Vatican out of the functioning of the Inquisition as much as possible.

These were not the extraordinary Renaissance Popes of the midth Century. Their efforts to rein in the Spanish Inquisition were sometimes motivated by concern over iniquitous precedure, but just as often, flowed from their desire to benefit from confiscations of property, and the lucrative practice of giving penances, or of reversing previous findings, in appeals directly to Rome.

The third factor, was the nature of Inquisitor-General Torquemada himself. The name of the town of his ancestry, Torquemada, was a corruption of an old Roman fortress-town, "Turre Cremata" Burnt Tower. Like his uncle, the Cardinal Juan de Torquemada, he entered the Dominican Order, and rose in his middle years to be prior of the monastery of Santa Cruz in Segovia for 22 years.

It was as prior of Santa Cruz that he came to know Isabel, during her lengthy stay in the city after marriage, but before she assumed the crown in A number of biographers assert that he was her confessor for a period around that time. All accounts depict Torquemada as an extreme ascetic, without any penchant for personal wealth, and with no relish for high ecclesiastical office. It is said that Isabel at one time later offered him the Archbishopric of Seville.

He reputedly turned it down. He achieved a position of power just as the Crown had its own reasons to acquiesce in a large-scale Inquisition, and as a final phase of the year-long struggle between Christians and Moslems known in Spain as Moros , created exceptional conditions for alleging a national security emergency requiring exceptional measures. For exactly in the year the Inquisition came into existence——a foolhardy foray by the ruler in the remaining Moslem Kingdom of Granada which had been a de facto vassal of the Crown of Castile for several centuries gave Isabel and Fernando the pretext to embark on one final long series of campaigns, culminating in the surrender of Granada to the Monarchs on Jan.

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This was harrowing, almost continuous fighting or besieging, requiring enormous commitment of men and funds. What emerged on the Spanish side was a new kind of fighting force, equipped with breakthrough technology in artillery, which was to be the basis of almost a century of Spanish pre-eminence as a military power all over Europe. Consistent with his character, Torquemada urged Fernando to put all the surrendering Moros to the sword. Fernando enslaved them, but spared their lives.

Torquemada was not in the forefront of the group of Dominicans who forced the issue of creating an Inquisition in the "wedge city" of Seville, but he definitely took an interest in the matter, from his Segovia priory.

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He first appeared in Seville in , when he drafted a preliminary guide for inquisitors to spot the signs of Judaizing. In February , he was named one of seven inquisitors in the expanded structure confirmed by the Pope in that month. In the course of , he rose to dominate the Castilian Inquisition, and in October of that year, he was named by Fernando, with accord of the Pope, chief inquisitor of Aragon. In that year also, the Suprema structure was created, and Torquemada assumed the functions of Grand Inquisitor.

He took command of the entire structure, from commending or reproving inquisitors, to establishing the smallest details of procedure such as setting the minimum age someone could be tried for apostasy—14 years old in the case of a boy, 12, in the case of a girl. The best way to understand Torquemada's use of power is to think of neo-conservative acolytes of Leo Strauss, such as Dick Cheney or Paul Wolfowitz today. See Children of Satan in Suggested Reading.

But think of the conscious use of "Big Lie" techniques, the conscious exercise of irrationality and terror beyond what onlookers or other political figures can psychologically handle in terms of preceding parameters of accepted practice, and you approach understanding both the neo-con fascist apparatus at work in the United States today, and Torquemada's Inquisition of yesterday. It also helps to re-read Shakespeare's study of the Beastman in a timeframe directly overlapping that of Torquemada: the play Richard III.

Tomas de Torquemada Facts

For the flavor of Torquemada's vengefulness, an instance gleaned by the dean of American scholars of the Inquisition, Henry C. Lea, from the records of the Inquisition itself, will suffice: "There was a fully organized Inquisition at Medina, with three inquisitors, an assessor, a fiscal and other officials, assisted by the Abbot of Medina as Ordinary. They reconciled some culprits and burnt others, apparently without referring the cases to him [Torquemada], but when they found reason to acquit some prisoners they deemed it best to transmit the papers to him for confirmation.

He demurred at this mercy and told the tribunal to try the accused again when the Licentiate Villalpando should be there as visitador. Some months later Villalpando came there, the cases were reviewed, the prisoners were tortured, two of them were reconciled and the rest acquitted, and the sentences duly published as final. Torquemada on learning this was incensed and declared that he would burn them all. He had them arrested again and sent to Valladolid, to be tried outside of their district, where his threat was doubtless carried into effect.

As his tribunals fanned out from city to city, Torquemada nurtured an intense propaganda machine, building a case that the Inquisition was needed to deal with a threat that constituted nothing less than a national emergency. One of the items that he made sure circulated widely, was a forged correspondence ostensibly involving "the Jews of Spain" asking "the Jews of Constantinople" for their advice on what to do in the face of forced conversions in Spain.

The Jews of Constantinople, in these crude inventions, reply: "dissimulate" and when "our Spanish brethren" have won the confidence of the Old Christians, "strike back. But for Torquemada's Inquisition to truly shatter the Converso factor in Spain, it was necessary to break the Converso higher officials around the court and the Church itself. Since these were circles with the wealth and connections to appeal to Rome to reverse whatever were the Spanish Inquisition's verdicts, the issue of whether Spanish authorities—or the Pope—had final say in appeals, was a hotly contested battleground.

Similarly contested, was the issue of who had authority to name inquisitors, and whether inquisitorial activity needed to obtain sanction of local bishops, who often tended to ameliorate the Inquisition's savagery. The ensuing struggle came to a head in Torquemada's efforts—fully backed by Fernando—to extend the Castilian form of the Inquisition to Aragon, whose pre-existing inquisitorial structure was moribund. The cities of Aragon, Catalonia, and Valencia, had some of the deepest traditions of rights of consultative and decision-making assembly—the Cortes tradition—of any place in Europe.

Aragon's Magnum Privilegium codified these ancient rights, and the oath that the Aragonese nobility, church, and town councils swore to a monarch assuming the throne, began with the words, "We, who are as good as you In the period of Fernando's early manhood, Barcelona and parts of surrounding Catalonia rose up in outright rebellion against the Aragonese crown, and Fernando personally led the troops to quell the uprising.

It was Torquemada's good fortune—and a disaster for the Conversos in Aragon—that Fernando thus had his own reasons of state to want to bring these recalcitrant councils of civic leaders and nobles to heel. In one of the starkest ironies of the period, it was because these Old Christian elements had proven so troublesome to Fernando, and because these Old Christian elements showed solidarity with the Conversos, that Fernando saw in the Inquisition his instrument to break them.

In April , the battle barely begun, Pope Sixtus IV responded to concerns from Old and New Aragonese Christians alike, with one of the most extraordinary Papal bulls of the entire period. The Pope protested "that in Aragon, Valencia, Mallorca, and Catalonia the Inquisition has for some time been moved not by zeal for the faith and the salvation of souls, but by lust for wealth, and that many true and faithful Christians, on the testimony of enemies, rivals, slaves, and other lower and even less proper persons, have without any legitimate proof been thrust into secular prisons, tortured, and condemned as relapsed heretics, deprived of their goods and property, and handed over to the secular arm to be executed, to the peril of souls, setting a pernicious example, and causing disgust to many.

After a five month stalemate, the Pope backed off. Never again would the fundamental character of the Inquisition be questioned, although an account of the many disputes over the issue of indulgences, appeals, naming of inquisitors, and disposition of confiscated goods, over the subsequent decade, is a story too extensive to relate here. Fundamentally, the Popes of the period were jealous of their prerogatives and chance to control the lucrative traffic in indulgences; but the Papal States were too threatened by the unstable politics of the time, especially the looming threat of French invasion of the Italian peninsula which did indeed happen in the mids , to alienate the one growing power capable of counteracting the French: the Spanish crown.

The resistance of the Aragonese grandees and city councils was far from over. In , when Torquemada, now-Grand Inquisitor of all Castile and Aragon, appointed the first two inquisitors for Aragon, public opposition was so great that Fernando hastily had to issue a circular letter repeating one of Torquemada's favorite assertions: "If there are so few heretics as is now asserted, there should not be such dread of the Inquisition.

When Teruel's clergy obtained papal letters releasing them from the interdiction, the Inquisition decreed that all office holders were summarily dismissed. When the town fathers appealed directly to Fernando, Fernando called out troops in both Aragon and Castile to back up the Inquisition. Teruel capitulated.


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But there remained the main bastion of resistance, Zaragoza itself. In early , Torquemada arranged two demonstrative autos de fe , and arrested one of the most prominent Conversos, Leonardo Eli. Standard accounts of the Inquisition to this day, repeat Inquisition propaganda about uprisings of Conversos in Seville in , and Toledo in , as justifications for Torquemada's constant claim that Conversos and Jews were inherently a national security threat to the state, ready at any moment to rise up and aid the Moslems in Granada or the rival throne of Portugal.

These instances in Seville and Toledo have been shown by recent historiography to be spurious. But the uprising of Conversos in Zaragoza can not be disputed—and it proved to be Torquemada's trump card in shattering the stubborn resistance of Aragon. Torquemada had his martyr, and he made the most of it. If the plotters calculated that the population would rise up and back them, they could not have been more utterly mistaken.

In Zaragoza alone, there were 14 autos de fe , in which 42 people were burned alive, 14 were burned in effigy, and others were subjected to imprisonment, flogging, and public humiliation. Members of some of the most illustrious Converso families of Aragon were implicated. Sancho de Pomeroy, one of the top five officials of the kingdom, was executed. In another notable case, Fernando himself intervened on behalf of his treasurer, Luis de Santangel.

Contrary to Fernando's customary bridling at Papal indulgences, in this case he sought Papal intervention on behalf of his court official himself. It saved Luis de Santangel's life, but Santangel had to suffer the disgrace of walking in a procession of penitents, clad in a sanbenito. There remained but one class in all of Spain over which the Inquisition had no jurisdiction: the bishops.

Arias, in his 80th year, was summoned to Rome to answer the charges; the Pope appears to have absolved him, for Arias was given significant tasks as a papal legate in his last years. The even more distinguished Pedro de Aranda, who in the early s had served as president of the Council of Castile, was summoned to Rome on Torquemada's charges and was not so fortunate.

He died, disgraced, in How many people fell victim to the Inquisition under Torquemada? The estimate of Isabel's chief chronicler and scribe, the Converso Hernando de Pulgar, has held up well to the current day: In the first decade, , 2, victims were burned at the stake, and another 15, charged, and forced to endure severe humiliations, penances, and confiscation of property. In the next decade, the burnings were sporadic but locally devastating. In Toledo, for instance, some were burnt. Thomas Aquinas, there had been no reports of apostasy until Torquemada arrived to direct the building project.

This toll, however, only begins to delineate the impact on the Converso population. For every Converso who fell into the Inquisition's control, at least as many simply fled. In the first two years after the tribunal was established at Ciudad Real, 52 of the accused were burned alive, but were condemned to death "in absentia.

Similarly, in the Barcelona auto de fe of June , 3 were burned in vivo and burned in absentia. In a Mallorca auto of May , 3 were burnt live, and 47 in effigy. These were exceptionally weighted toward the "absent," but almost nowhere were those who burned, a greater number than those who were condemned in absentia. And in all larger autos , the number "penanced" far outnumbered all other categories. In addition, there were the even larger numbers of those who "voluntarily confessed" in the Edict of Grace phase.

In the first year of the Inquisition's operations in Toledo, for instance, 2, Conversos so confessed, a huge percentage of the Conversos in the city. They thus avoided confiscation of goods, but were "rehabilitated" only for a cash payment. The idea of the wholesale expulsion of the Jews, was first preached with any broad effect by the incendiary Alonso de Espina in the s. The argument was simple: If the "backsliding" Conversos were to be successfully pulled out of their "Judaizing" habits, all temptation resulting from contact with the Jews themselves had to be broken.

There is evidence that this indeed occurred in the case of Seville. In most other areas, it was of limited effect, in many cases simply the occasion for a bribe to a local official. But Torquemada began to lay the groundwork for the Inquisition to directly confront the Jews, even though the Inquisition had no direct jurisdiction in that area.

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Thus in , shortly after Torquemada moved the headquarters of the Inquisition from Ciudad Real to Toledo, he decreed that all rabbis had the obligation to turn in to the Inquisition, any information they had on any contacts between Jews and Conversos, on pain of death if they should not do so. Soon, the whole Jewish congregation was so instructed. The fact that some Jews did cooperate with the Inquisition, was not forgotten by a few among the Conversos. After the Expulsion in , when some Jews who left, found exile too difficult to bear, and were re-admitted to Spain as New Christians, the handful of embittered Conversos struck back by denouncing these "Exile New Christians" to the Inquisition in their turn.

However, the Edict of Expulsion in is such an order-of-magnitude greater rupture than any of these preliminary developments, that it requires deeper discussion. The climate for the expulsion was prepared by one of the propaganda coups of the period, a gigantic hoax, the equivalent in some ways to the "Weapons of Mass Destruction" fabrications of the Straussians in the Bush Administration regarding Iraq in our current day. It was not the first "blood libel" case against Jews in Spain. But the history of previous incidents of charging Jews with ritual murder of a Christian were rare in Spain, and there had been none for several decades.

On Nov. A cult of the "Saint-Child of La Guardia" promptly sprang to life, replete with reputed miracles. There was only one thing wrong with the picture: No child anywhere had been reported missing, and no remains were found at the location where the child was said to be buried. No "confession" matched the details of any other.


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The case was simply manufactured. Within six weeks of the ending of the La Guardia case, the last king of Granada, Boabdil, surrendered to Isabel and Fernando. Torquemada saw his opening. He pressed the case for the complete expulsion of the Jews from the combined kingdoms. The atmosphere was heated up by the La Guardia case. The religious fervor of having wrested the last corner of the peninsula from the Moslems after years, was palpable. Isabel and Fernando, who had financed the protracted, intense, 12 years of the Granada War with large contributions from the Jews of the kingdoms, and with key court Jews such as Don Abraham Seneor and Don Isaac Abravanel collecting war taxes from others, no longer had need of such financial assistance mediated through the Jewish community.

And, most of all, the virulence of the preceding decade of the Inquisition's rampage, had cowed any Conversos who would have protested the move, and neutralized any Old Christians who still adhered to Conviencia traditions. Notable is the case of the Queen's scribe, Hernando de Pulgar, a Converso who had protested the establishment of the Inquisition in the first half of s, but at the time of the expulsion, presented himself as a public defender of the tribunals. Isabel and Fernando did not instigate the Expulsion order, but under the pressures of the moment, they did not stand up to Torquemada.

On March 31, , the fateful order was signed though not proclaimed until a month later. All Jews had until the last day of July , to dispose of all their property that could not be carried, and quit the kingdoms. A famous story that all but the most recent accounts of the Inquisition relate as fact, claims that the two most prominent court Jews, Seneor and Abravanal, approached Isabel and Fernando with a payment—in effect, a bribe—of 30, ducats, if the order were rescinded.

Torquemada burst into the room holding high a crucifix, flung the crucifix on the table, and proclaimed, "Judas once sold the Son of God for 30 pieces of silver. Your Highnesses think to sell Him again for 30, Here you have Him. Sell Him, then, but acquit me of all share in the transaction. But it accurately conveys the psychological control Torquemada had established by this time. The order of expulsion fell like a thunderclap on the diminished but still substantial Jewish community, heir to a thousand years of notable Jewish life and achievement in Iberia.

In the decade before the expulsion, there had been a relative strengthening of Jewish communal life, and even a strange sense of being less "in the line of fire," seeing the Conversos taking the brunt of anti-Jewish sentiment. Suddenly all that was shattered, and most of the Jews could only seek to comprehend such a sudden cataclysm in terms of God punishing his Chosen for sins and transgressions.

Many Sephardic accounts compared the new Jewish suffering to that of the Prophets and patriarchs in Hebrew scripture. A mystical current in Sephardic Jewish thinking seized on the expulsion to claim it was God's sign that it was time for an in-gathering of Jews in the land of Zion. Almost all were aware that the expulsion occurred just a day or so before the 9th of the month of Av in the Jewish calendar—the fateful day, according to tradition, in which both the first and second destructions of the Temple in Jerusalem had occurred.

How many Jews were forced to leave Spain? The best current estimates are that between , and , Jews were still in Spain at the time. Of these, at least a third accepted conversion rather than exile. This large number included the leading court Jew, the year-old Abraham Seneor. His sponsors at the baptism ceremony were none other than Isabel and Fernando. Of those who did leave, another third found conditions in exile too terrifying or uncertain to endure.

They returned to Spain in waves over the succeeding half dozen years.

The returnees, along with many of those who converted rather than leave in the first place, were manifestly involuntary converts who were not easily incorporated into the long-standing, earlier Converso population. They would provide in later years much new raw material for the Inquisition. They went through roads and fields with many travails and [mixed] fortunes, some falling, others rising, others dying, others being born, others falling sick, so that there was no Christian who did not feel sorry for them and always invite them to be baptized.

And some sorrowfully converted and stayed, but very few. And on the way the rabbis heartened them, and had the women and youths sing and play tambourines to cheer the people, and so they went through Castile and arrived at the ports Basically the Jews left by whatever port or land exit was nearest.

A number went to the independent kingdom of Navarre in the Pyrenees to the north only to be expelled from there in when Navarre fell under control of Spain. From the east and northeast, the Jews embarked for southern France, the northern Italian states, or Naples. In the south, many embarked for Moslem-held lands in North Africa, where small enclaves of Jews still existed. And in the west, the largest numbers of all, found temporary refuge—for a price of one cruzado apiece—in Portugal. Many never made it to their destinations, falling prey to pirates at sea, unscrupulous captains who sold them into slavery, or to deadly outbreaks of disease.

A substantial group, including Isaac Abravanel and his family, made it to the welcoming kingdom of Ferrante II in Naples—only to have large numbers of their own group, as well as thousands of Neopolitans, succumb to the plague, and be thrown into further flight when the French overthrew Ferrante in Those who went to Portugal had a similar stormy further odyssey, facing cruel pressures from King Joao II to convert one of his strategies was to separate a group of Jewish children from their parents and send them to far-off Sao Tome in the African Gulf of Benin, relenting only if the parents converted.

Spanish Inquisition

Large numbers moved on to other destinations in North Africa or northern Europe after only six months in Portugal. Eventually, the largest single component of this Second Diaspora relocated into the eastern Mediterranean, where Sephardic communities took root in Salonika, Aleppo, and a number of other locations, under a generally welcoming edict from Sultan Bayezid II. Other notable Sephardic communities took root in Amsterdam and the New World. In the last years before his death in , Torquemada split his time between his duties as Inquisitor General and the building of his great Monastery of St.

He rode with a retinue of liveried soldiers for protection, dined with a reputed unicorn horn or a scorpion tongue next to his food to ward away poison, and had to constantly dispatch a trusted Dominican associate, Fray Alfonso Badaja, to Rome as his advocate in Papal investigations of Torquemada's abuses. His continuing close ties to the Monarchs is illustrated in an incident in , when the Monarchs had come to his Monastery for a visit.

There they received the devastating word that their only son and direct heir, Prince Juan, had died of a sudden malady, in a city some distance away. They arranged for the body to be brought to them at Torquemada's Monastery, and buried on its grounds. Even in his last year, he was laboring on the third revision of his Instrucciones , the bible of Inquisitorial practice which he had first compiled in When he died, he left behind an institution that would function with very little change in procedure for another years. Although it never exerted as dramatic an overall influence, nor took as many lives in a short period as it did under Torquemada, and although its targetted victim populations shifted from Conversos to Lutherans and Erasmians, then to the converted Moslem population Moriscos , then back to a second wave of Portuguese Conversos at the turn of the 17th Century, its fundamental character was firmly set.

Henry Charles Lea, dean of the historians of the Inquisition, noted the reports of Venetian envoys in the early 16th Century, "who lauded its [the Inquisition's] services in the suppression of heresy, and to whom, as practical statesmen, it was an object of wonder and admiration, as a machine perfectly devised to keep the people in abject subjection The envoys were profoundly impressed by the universal awe which it inspired. As early as , Gasparo Contarini tells us that everyone trembled before it, for its severity and the dread entertained for it were greater even than for the Council of Ten.

High praise indeed! The use of this instrument through its remaining three centuries is beyond the scope of this study. But a quick sketch of the events leading to the expulsion of the population of Moslem background provides haunting parallels to those which produced the expulsion of the Jews, with a time lag of roughly one century. The terms of capitulation granted by the Monarchs to Granada in were of a piece with earlier Iberian traditions of Convivencia.

The Moros , as the Spanish termed them, could retain their religion, customs, and language, but subject to Spanish governors. Both represented enlightened policies. Talavera emphasized conversion only through voluntary persuasion, respect for Mudejar culture, and the use of Arabic in church functions.

This led to a series of revolts. When Talavera protested Lucero's iniquities, Lucero turned on Talavera himself, accusing the archbishop and his family of Judaizing. For example, Fray Tomas de Torquemada, the Grand Inquisitor whose very name is now a symbol of ruthless cruelty, actually checked the excessive zeal of the earlier inquisitors in many ways, including the limiting and mitigating of torture. Walsh thinks that torture under Torquemada was no worse than that used by American police in the s. Also, under Torquemada's entire tenure as Grand Inquisitor , , prisoners passed before his various tribunals throughout Spain.

In Barcelona, from to , "one prisoner out of 20 was put to death" 23 executions. Torquemada is not the monster of the Black Legend; still, he was responsible for, as an estimation, between 1, and 1, deaths. And by burning, the common method for those times. For those who want to be able to defend the Church on this matter, there is much additional information. For example, Keating points out that there were three Inquisitions: the medieval, begun in , which died out as the Catharist heresy waned; the Roman, begun in , which was "the least active and the most benign.

This is significant, for though the medieval Catholic Church flourished in these areas, the Inquisition didn't exist there. Catholic medievalism is not synonymous with courts of orthodoxy. Finally, Keating reminds us that the Inquisition does not prove the Church to be false, but only that there are some misguided people within her courtyards.

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The relationship of the Inquisition to art is now a troubling matter, after the new research which the BBC revealed. For example, in Dostoyevski's famous novel The Brothers Karamazov , his imaginary Grand Inquisitor is a sinister horror who is master of Spain and who intends to put Christ to death after He returns to 16th-century Spain.

Dostoyevski's Grand Inquisitor is a phantom, a creature of delusion, spawned in ignorance. How can one believe in the Russian novelist's scenario? Can great art be built on lies? Torquemada was not master of Spain and would not murder Christ. And what of Poe's tale of the condemned man in The Pit and the Pendulum? Since the setting and the plot are wildly false, what is left? But because of the power of art, these writings will continue to haunt the imagination and work against the truth. They will remain as literary thorns in the side of the Church. Religious Catalogue.

Daily Readings. Prayer Requests. Home Library. Authored By: Edward O'Brien. However, Mohammad was compelled to keep silent while his fellow countrymen were brutally tortured before his eyes. Many Afghan interpreters are in the very same situation. A "traitor" is also what the Taliban calls guys like Mohammad. It is well-known that they make short-shrift of interpreters they catch. Mohammad has since left Afghanistan for security reasons and is reluctant to offer explicit details of the interrogations sessions he participated in.

Bagram Airbase is the largest base the US constructed in Afghanistan and also one of the main theaters of its torture regime. You have to drive about one and a half hour from Kabul to reach the prison where hundreds of supposedly high-value detainees were held. The foundations of the base are much older, laid by the Soviets in the s, when the last king of Afghanistan, Mohammad Zahir, maintained friendly connections with Moscow.

Later, during the Soviet occupation, Bagram as the main control center for the Red Army. During the US occupation, the military complex in Bagram became like a small town for soldiers, spooks and contractors. In this hermetically sealed hellhole, the wanton abuse of human rights existed comfortably alongside the "American Way of Life.

One of the persons sucked into the parallel world of Bagram was Raymond Azar , a manager of a construction company. The agents handcuffed him, tied him up and shoved him into an SUV. Some hours later Azar found himself in the bowels of Bagram. He spent the whole night in a cold metal container. His tormentors denied him food for 30 hours. Azar also claimed that the military officers showed him photos of his wife and four children, warning him that unless he cooperated he would never see his family again.

Azar had nothing to do with Al Qaida or the Taliban. He was caught in the middle of a classic web of corruption. The businessman's company had signed phony contracts with the Pentagon for reconstruction work in Afghanistan. Later, Azar was accused of having attempted to bribe the U. Army contact to secure the military contracts for his company.