Prof. O’Connell on Harsh Interrogation Techniques

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Mary Ellen Oconnell Mary Ellen O’Connell, the Robert and Marion Short Professor of Law and Research Professor of International Dispute Resolution at Notre Dame, spoke with the “National Catholic Register” for an article about the use of harsh interrogation techniques by the United States military. The full article appears in the May 17 edition of the publication.

Here is an excerpt:

“The teaching of the Catholic Church could not be more clear,” said Notre Dame Law Professor Mary Ellen O’Connell. “In Gaudium et Spes (The Church in the Modern World), one of the central documents of the Second Vatican Council, in Veritatis Splendor (Pope John Paul II’s encyclical The Splendor of Truth), and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, physical and mental torture are deemed intrinsically evil.”

The Church, said O’Connell, is in the forefront of supporting the principles that provide the foundation for international law, including the Geneva Conventions and the U.N. “Convention Against Torture.” “Universal law and moral principles bind us as a community,” she noted.

A legal expert on interrogations married to a former military interrogator, O’Connell describes torture as “always immoral, unlawful and impractical.”

In her classroom, however, some students question this assessment, arguing that torture “works” and helps keep America safe. O’Connell said it can be a struggle for students to understand that “as Catholics, we should resist attempts to place the United States, or any state, above the law.”