The Church employs torture and a doctrine of “preëmptive penance”—a program of self-flagellation that provides its adherents with a kind of get-out-of-Hell-free card, forgiving them in advance for such politically useful sins as assassination.
-- Laura Miller's profile of Philip Pullman's brilliant "His Dark Materials" trilogy, in which the main villain is a maelevolent church known as "The Authority"
New Yorker, Feb 27
Lieutenant Colonel Diane Beaver ... acknowledged that American military personnel at Guantánamo, as everywhere else in the world, were bound by the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which characterizes “cruelty,” “maltreatment,” “threats,” and “assault” as felonies. Beaver reasoned, however, that U.S. soldiers preparing to violate these laws in their interrogations might be able to obtain “permission, or immunity” from higher authorities “in advance.”
-- Jane Mayer's article about how an internal U.S. effort to ban the abuse and torture of detainees was thwarted.