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US cardinal’s early warning of torture in Iraq

VATICAN CITY (CNS): More than a year ago, US Cardinal J. Francis Stafford warned that the “war on terrorism” was leading to implicit acceptance of torture by the United States.

Today, in the wake of Iraqi prisoner abuse, one of the highest ranking Americans at the Vatican wonders why others did not see it coming.

“All of this outcry by the Democrats in Congress, the Republicans in the White House and by the press is deceitful in light of the silence that took place when torture was being talked about in 2001, 2002, 2003,” Cardinal Stafford said in an interview with the Catholic magazine, Inside the Vatican.

In a February 2003 statement reported by Catholic News Service, Cardinal Stafford said, “The Government of the United States has compromised its own basic principles by implicitly endorsing the use of torture since September 11, 2001”.

The cardinal, who is head of the Vatican office that deals with indulgences and the lifting of censures reserved to the Pope, was quoted at the time as being concerned that political leaders of both major parties, as well as some leading legal experts, supported the torture of terrorist suspects and that media reports of their statements had produced no outcry.

Cardinal Stafford said the revelations and photos of prisoner abuse will infuriate Arabs and raise fundamental questions about the type of democracy the United States is trying to export.

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