Hugh Trevor-Roper, in The European Witch-craze of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries asserted that widespread reports of witchcraft during the early modern era resulted from torture. According to Trevor-Roper, Europeans then believe witchcraft to exist. To obtain evidence for this, they tortured confessions out of accused defendants. Torture was a Renaissance institution. Tourists in Tuscany can visit a Torture Museum today.
Apparently we are heading back to the 16th and 17th centuries, for reportedly the Bush administration likewise attempted to use torture to establish links between Al Qaeda and Iraq.
Bush administration torturers apparently lacked the skill of their Renaissance forbearers, for they failed to produce the sought after links.