BILL MOYERS: This week on Moyers & Company.

DOUG LIMAN: Hi, I’m Doug Liman and I’m asking you to help me direct the movie "Reckoning With Torture."

LARRY SIEMS: The documents you begin to recover are just glimpses of humanity, because you hear the voices of detainees. We’ve never heard them.

DOUG LIMAN: And we're asking people to stage their own readings.

ZACK DE LA ROUDA: "Extraordinary rendition" has a human face. And it is mine.

DOUG LIMAN: It will change your life.

BILL MOYERS: Welcome. Facing the truth is hard to do, especially the truth about ourselves. Not surprising. Americans have been sorely pressed to come to terms with the fact that after 9/11 our government began to torture people. And did so in defiance of domestic and international law. It’s no secret such cruelty occurred; it’s just the truth we’d rather not think about.

But Memorial Day is a good time to make the effort. Because if we really want to honor the Americans in uniform who died fighting for their country, we’ll redouble our efforts to make sure we’re worthy of their sacrifice; we’ll renew our commitment to the rule of law, for the rule of law is essential to any civilization worth dying for. So in this broadcast we’ll reckon with torture, the torture done in our name, allegedly for our safety.

Because most of us haven’t come to terms with what that meant, or means today. We hope to engage you, here and online, in thinking and talking about this most uncomfortable subject. Our effort was inspired by a collaboration between the American Civil Liberties Union and the international literary and human rights group PEN. They teamed up to comb through 150,000 declassified documents, as well as large collections of articles and transcripts, to produce “The Torture Report: What the Documents Say About America’s Post 9/11 Torture Program,” written by PEN’s Larry Siems.

ROBERT REDFORD: I am reading an excerpt…

BILL MOYERS: But that’s not all. PEN and the ACLU have staged readings of excerpts from the documents and from first-person testimony at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah and Lincoln Center here in New York.

Those readings have been videotaped and are being made into a documentary by movie director Doug Liman called “Reckoning With Torture.”

KAYLA THOMAS: Hi, my name is Kayla Thomas…

BILL MOYERS: He wants you to participate, too. We’ll tell you more about the project and how you can get involved later in the broadcast. But first, let’s meet Doug Liman – whose feature film credits include “The Bourne Identity,” “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” and “Fair Game” – and the lead writer of “The Torture Report,” Larry Siems, who directs the Freedom to Write and International Programs at PEN American Center.

Welcome to both of you.

DOUG LIMAN: Thank you.

LARRY SIEMS: Thank you.

BILL MOYERS: What's a brief history of this project? What's the beginning of it? How did it come about?

LARRY SIEMS: Well, the beginning is in the Freedom of Information Act action and lawsuit that the ACLU filed for the release of documents that detailed the abuse of prisoners in U.S. custody since 9/11. We have this incredible trove of documents. And I think, you know, the ACLU was looking for ways of putting the public in contact with these documents.

PEN is a writers organization, as you say, that does international human rights work. And like all international human rights organizations, we found our international efforts complicated by the fact that the U.S. was compromising its commitments to standards that we've been asking governments the world to adhere to.

BILL MOYERS: Because we had?

LARRY SIEMS: Immediately after 9/11 a number of regimes launched crackdowns on the usual suspects in their countries. And when they were questioned by that, they just pointed to the United States and said, "Look what the United States is doing." You know, indefinite detention. The Patriot Act. You know, increase surveillance powers. "If the United States can do it, they certainly can't criticize us." And this happened in a number of countries.

So, you know, we knew we had to look to ourselves in order to speak to the world. So we began to work with the ACLU, PEN did, to put together these public readings from these documents.

DOUG LIMAN: You can't believe some of these documents that they've uncovered. And, you know, in a way it's a tribute to this country that the Freedom of Information Act actually works. That you don't actually need WikiLeaks. Like, there is an actual legal way that documents that are quite damaging to the people who committed these acts of atrocity.

LARRY SIEMS: That's something that the book really chronicles is that this was not a case where everybody agreed with these programs. On the--

BILL MOYERS: With the torture?


BILL MOYERS: You mean, people inside government?

LARRY SIEMS: Absolutely.

BILL MOYERS: There were dissenters?

LARRY SIEMS: In the military, and in all of the intelligence agencies. And in fact the reason we have these documents is because there were dissenters.

So many people said this is wrong, this is stupid. This violates our principals.

DOUG LIMAN: And ineffective.

BILL MOYERS: Do the documents show that? That torture didn't work?

LARRY SIEMS: Yes. Because there's an internal argument all the time, about whether it's working, or not working. This is all, you know, quite well-documented.

BILL MOYERS: As a storyteller, what was the story you found there?

DOUG LIMAN: Well, first of all, you know, we're in a sort of state in this country where, you know, everything is so polarized. And it's right wing, or left wing. Republican, or Democrat. And it's almost, it's hard to sort of get to the truth of matters because suddenly you're just-- who's telling you the information makes the information itself suspect.

Something that's so extraordinary about this project is that the documents aren't editorialized. I mean, they are-- these are the documents exactly how they were received from the U.S. government. I mean, things are redacted. But they're in no way editorialized. And we're just, we're reading the documents raw.

BILL MOYERS: How did you react, personally, when you began to look at the documents. What was going on inside of your own head?

DOUG LIMAN: On one hand, they are riveting, these documents. And you almost can't believe, I mean, you read John Yoo memo, talking about, you know, just clinically discussing, in a legal memo, you know, torture, and what you can and can't do to a prisoner. And just coldly sort of describing how you waterboard somebody. And it's extraordinary that sort of the Justice Department could participate. That lawyers could participate in sort of putting torture into some kind of legal framework that was, that is, incredibly thuggish behavior.

And one of my favorite documents is a transcript of George Tenet's interview on “60 Minutes”. Which isn't a declassified document, at all.

GEORGE TENET on 60 Minutes: It’s been portrayed is we sat around the campfire and said, `Oh, boy, now we go get to torture people.' We don't torture people. Let me say that again to you, we don't torture people. OK? So...

SCOTT PELLEY on 60 Minutes: Come on, George.

GEORGE TENET on 60 Minutes: We don't torture people.

SCOTT PELLEY on 60 Minutes: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?

GEORGE TENET on 60 Minutes: We don't torture people.

SCOTT PELLEY on 60 Minutes: Waterboarding?

GEORGE TENET on 60 Minutes: We do not-- I don't talk about techniques.

SCOTT PELLEY on 60 Minutes: It's torture.

GEORGE TENET on 60 Minutes: And we don't torture people. No, listen to me. No, listen to me. I want you to listen to me.

BILL MOYERS: What struck you about it?

DOUG LIMAN: He clearly has to say, "We don't torture people." Like, he's just, he's been told, or he knows, like, he must just repeat that sentence over and over again. But he's being confronted with overwhelming evidence. And at the same time he's sort of saying, "Some people need to be tortured."

But he can't really say that. And so seeing somebody sort of squirm in this position, where they know they can't support, they morally can't support what it is they're saying, and what they did. And they just have to sort of keep talking, and filling the space until the interview ends. So just as, like, a student of drama, I find that you know one of the most extraordinary performances I've ever seen.

BILL MOYERS: But as you suggest, the story has been out. We all knew, finally, that torture had happened. And felt badly about it, many people--

DOUG LIMAN: Yeah. But you knew it as, like, maybe there were few bad apples out there.


DOUG LIMAN: Right? I mean, that really was how the story was positioned. And these people here did this horrible thing, and these people here did this horrible thing. And what these documents reveal, is that it comes straight back to the highest levels of government.

BILL MOYERS: But why bring it out now? It is in the past. America's going through hard times. People out there have lost their jobs, lost their pensions, lost their homes. Politics, as you say, mean-spirited. Why take all this dirty linen and dump it in the middle of the room right now?

LARRY SIEMS: Torture is something that happens by human beings, to human beings. And there are lives that have been harmed by this. And the convention against torture, and domestic laws against torture make it clear. When torture happens people must be prosecuted. Victims must be compensated.

BILL MOYERS: No ambiguity in the Geneva Code?

LARRY SIEMS: That's the Convention against Torture and … Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Punishment, or Treatment.

BILL MOYERS: And the United States is a long-time signatory.

LARRY SIEMS: It's been codified into U.S. law. Under U.S. law the question of what's cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment is determined by the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and inhuman punishment. The courts interpret that as behavior that shocks the conscience.

There's much, much that shocks the conscience in this book. But, the one thing, as you look at documents, which seem coldly bureaucratic, and you start to read it, and you realize that they're very, very human. They have human voices in them. They capture, I mean, if you think that the purpose of torture is to dehumanize people. The documents, you begin to recover just glimpses of humanity, because you hear the voices of detainees. We've never heard them. The whole system has been structured so you never hear them tell their stories.

BILL MOYERS: You mean, over the last years we've heard about them, but we've never heard from them?

LARRY SIEMS: You've never--

DOUG LIMAN: Until you hear one of the staged readings, or do-- perform one of them yourself. And it's because some of these documents are detainees, describing the experience of being tortured.

BILL MOYERS: Let me play one of the readings that took place during the Sundance festival. This is the infamous Torture Memo from the Justice Department, 2002. And the first-hand accounts of the interrogations of Abu Zubaydah. Who is he?

LARRY SIEMS: Abu Zubaydah was, according to the Bush Administration, when he was first detained, the number three man in Al Qaeda. This is what their definition of him was. He was detained. He was shot, actually, during a raid in Pakistan. Treated by the U.S. and then flown to a secret C.I.A. prison in Thailand, where the C.I.A. sent a team of contractors who were the ones who would end up sort of driving this torture program. To do this experiment. To really try these new, enhanced interrogation techniques.

Techniques that had really by derived from techniques that the Communist Chinese and the Soviets used in the middle of the 20th Century. Sent them there, interrogated him. The memos are August 1st, 2002. Green lighting, saying that these techniques are not torture.

And green lighting their use on Abu Zubaydah. So throughout August of 2002 he's brutally tortured, including he's waterboarded 83 times. You know, kept nude, subjected to temperature extremes. Sleep deprivation. Dietary manipulation. Slaps. Wallings. Slamming him against the wall. And this reading, I think, that you're going to show is it juxtaposes the John Yoo memo describing the treatment, with one of the only documents that we have in which Abu Zubaydah speaks.

BILL MOYERS: John Yoo was?

LARRY SIEMS: A Justice Department Attorney in the Office of Legal Counsel. He is the architect of a number of the legal manipulations that declare these things legal. And this is Abu Zubaydah speaking to the Red Cross in 2006, four years after he'd been disappeared, literally disappeared, into secret prisons. He's been held in Thailand, and then in Poland. He's finally brought to Guantanamo with 14, with 13 other high-valued detainees in October or in September of 2006.

He finally gets to see the Red Cross. And he tells his story of what happens. And the amazing thing is his account of what happens to him, just by recollection to the International Committee on the Red Cross, matches exactly the instructions that are laid out in the Yoo Memo. So--

BILL MOYERS: Let’s play that for you.

GEORGE SAUNDERS: Hi, I’m George Saunders. I am going to be reading an excerpt from a legal memo written by John Yoo and signed by Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee.

SANDRA CISNEROS: I am Sandra Cisneros. I will be reading excerpts of Abu Zubaydah’s first-hand account of his interrogation in a secret CIA prison.[…] About two and a half or three months after I arrived in this place, the interrogation began again, but with more intensity than before. Then the real torture started.

GEORGE SAUNDERS: In this phase, you would like to employ ten techniques that you believe will dislocate his expectations regarding the treatment he believes he will receive and encourage him to disclose the crucial information mentioned above. These ten techniques are: attention grasp, walling, facial hold, facial slap (insult slap), cramped confinement, wall standing, stress positions, sleep deprivation, insects placed in a confinement box, and the waterboard.

SANDRA CISNEROS: I was taken out of my cell and one of the interrogators wrapped a towel around my neck, they then used it to swing me around and smash me repeatedly against the hard walls of the room. I was also repeatedly slapped in the face. […] The interrogators realized that smashing me against the hard wall would probably quickly result in physical injury. During these torture sessions many guards were present, plus two interrogators who did the actual beating still asking questions.

GEORGE SAUNDERS: Finally, you would like to use a technique called the “waterboard.” […] You have orally informed us that this procedure triggers an automatic physiological sensation of drowning that the individual cannot control even though he may be aware that he is in fact not drowning.

SANDRA CISNEROSM: I struggled against the straps, trying to breathe, but it was hopeless. I thought I was going to die. I lost control of my urine. Since then I still lose control of my urine when under stress.

BILL MOYERS: What does that document tell you?

DOUG LIMAN: I'm just sort of recovering from watching the clip again. But, you know, I'm a filmmaker, but my father was a lawyer. My brother’s a lawyer.

BILL MOYERS: And your father was?

DOUG LIMAN: Was Arthur Liman. He was a lawyer in New York City, but he also, ran the investigation into the Reagan Administration's Iran Contra program. And, actually, I ended up taking a lot of the details from that investigation and making-- those are the characters in "The Bourne Identity."

DOUG LIMAN: And so and clearly this was a situation where you know the White House was turning to lawyers and saying, "We want to torture these people, and we need a lawyer to sort of tell us that it is legal."

And the lawyers that I grew up around would not have done that. And yet, there were lawyers in this Justice Department who were willing to bend the law, figure out, some tricky business to sort of somehow say that this kind of behavior was, in fact, legal. When it so clearly shocks the conscience, in violation of the Convention Against Torture. So, just-- my first reaction is just shock that a lawyer like John Yoo could sort of shirk his responsibilities as a lawyer and a member of the Justice Department, sworn to uphold the law. And write a memo like this, and then when you hear that-- which was so powerful about these readings is to then not read a transcript of Abu Zubaydah, but to actually hear the words spoken out loud--

LARRY SIEMS: Abu Zubaydah, who it turns out is-- the government has finally admitted was in fact never even a member of Al Qaeda, not let alone its number three depute. Had no knowledge of the 9/11 attacks. So what the interrogation--

BILL MOYERS: But he confesses, under torture.

LARRY SIEMS: Of course he does.

BILL MOYERS: To something he didn't do?

LARRY SIEMS: Because everybody does.

BILL MOYERS: Everybody does?

LARRY SIEMS: These techniques that we tried in the secret prisons and in Guantanamo and Iraq were based on the SERE training program of the military. That's S.E.R.E. And it stands for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape. And it's a training program that we, you know, that we put soldiers and airmen and naval officers and Marines, who are particularly in jeopardy of being captured. We put them through this program to, you know, to prepare them for what they may experience if they're captured by countries, specifically, that don’t adhere to the Geneva Conventions and that torture people.

But the scenario that's most often used is the scenario that was used during the Korean War when pilots were captured. And it was in order to get them to sign false confessions, that they had committed war crimes.

This was what the North Koreans did, and these were the techniques that they used to break down your will to the point that you will sign a confession.

BILL MOYERS: So Zubaydah, he confesses.

LARRY SIEMS: He confesses--

BILL MOYERS: To something he didn't do.

LARRY SIEMS: Interestingly, people who go through this, even in a simulated one-week program end up signing false confessions.

So you know, let alone the pressure of being, you know in-- disappeared from the face of the earth, in a secret dungeon in Thailand. You have no access to lawyers, nothing. They tell you there's no law anymore. The law has been suspended. We can do it, do to you whatever we want. Of course he confesses.

BILL MOYERS: But let me ask you both to go back ten years. The United States has just been attacked, thousands of people have been killed. There were more attacks feared. Nobody really knows what has happened. The country is stunned.

There's a ticking time bomb, we keep being told, and we've got to find that ticking time bomb, before it goes off again. The men charged, and women, charged with protecting American citizens, are stunned. They're uncertain. They don't know where this is coming from, they don't know when it will happen again. And they want to find out. Any sympathy for the desperation that drove the decisions to go after the sources of the information?

LARRY SIEMS: We all felt that fear. I think, to some extent the public-- we probably communicated to the administration that we would like them to do anything they could to protect us. That said, I think one of the, again, I think one of the clearest stories that the documents tell is that many, many people who are in positions of high responsibility had felt exactly the same pressure.

And had exactly the opposite reaction that John Yoo, and Dick Cheney, and George Bush had. There were a stream of legal memos that were written by the lawyers of every single service. That challenged John Yoo's memo.

They fought, and fought, and fought. They said, look, these techniques, they violate the convention against torture. They violate U.S. law, and they violate the Uniform Code of Military Justice. These are front-line people.

DOUG LIMAN: Some of the people are pushing back because they know that torture leads to useless information. And in fact--

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean "useless information"?

DOUG LIMAN: The information that's elicited from somebody who's being tortured is mostly, it's strategically useless. And in fact we didn't find Bin Laden's location from somebody who was tortured.

LARRY SIEMS: Right. And if you listen to all these voices that are in the documents, all these people who are saying, you know, history is going to judge this. People say this again, and again, and again, you know? This is the stuff that Congressional investigations are made of. You know? That's a quote that could--

BILL MOYERS: They fear being prosecuted?

LARRY SIEMS: Absolutely fear being prosecuted.

BILL MOYERS: Because they knew it was wrong?

LARRY SIEMS: The dissenters warned about prosecution. And the administration feared prosecution. The administration feared prosecution, that's why--

DOUG LIMAN: That's why there's a John Yoo memo.

BILL MOYERS: There's one of your excerpts that you did at Sundance, of a soldier witnessing torture in Afghanistan I think.

LARRY SIEMS: This was a woman. An interpreter. And it's an incredible moment of what they used to call in you know Aristotelian dramatics, of dramatic irony. Because here she is in Afghanistan. She witnesses this. Some obscure Special Forces team comes in, beats up, and tortures the prisoner that they're interrogating.

Ruins the interrogation for her. And what she has her training as a military training in Geneva Conventions. And she just says, look, I know this is a violation of Geneva Conventions, and I know how important it is to uphold these things.

At the very moment that this is happening, the Bush Administration is putting the final touches on the memos that suspend Geneva protections for detainees for Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees. Two weeks later Bush signs the order that will withhold Geneva protections. And I-- that juxtaposition, it's like one of the things about just lining up the dates of the documents. This happened here, and this happened here. I knew those two things happened, but you put them together side-by-side, and you just see the gulf between, you know--

DOUG LIMAN: The people on the ground, and people in the White House.

LARRY SIEMS: Yeah. And this is us. This woman is us. She was sent out to do this job. Trained in a way to do this job. And the rug's being pulled out from underneath her, even as she's behaving exactly as we would hope.

BILL MOYERS: And here is the reading.

LILI TAYLOR: Hi, I’m Lili Taylor. I’m going to read from the sworn statement of an interpreter at the Kandahar detention facility in Afghanistan. The handwritten document is dated February 13, 2002.

I am writing this in response to events that I witnessed while performing my duties as an interrogator with the Task Force 202 JIF.

Specialist BLANK and I were conducting an interrogation of military prisoner number XXX on 3 January, 2002. BLANK and I took a break to regroup and check our notes. While we were out of the booth, several Special Forces members entered. […] BLANK and I finished the break and went back. When we entered the booth, we found the Special Forces members all crouched around the prisoner. […] The prisoner was extremely upset. He said that they had hit him, told him that he was going to die, blew smoke in his face, and had shocked him some kind of device. He used the term “electricity.” I immediately notified our Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge. I was very upset that such a thing could happen. I take my job and responsibilities as an interrogator and as a human being very seriously. I understand the importance of the Geneva Convention and what it represents. If I don’t honor it, what right do I have to expect any other military to do so?

DOUG LIMAN: The book, and the website are filled with document after document to people who, in that same situation, feeling that same pressure to do something, felt that this was wrong. And that this shouldn't happen. And wrote a memo to her superiors saying that this was wrong.

BILL MOYERS: You've got a segment called “The Repentant Prosecutor.” Set that up for me, before we play it for the audience.

LARRY SIEMS: This is drawn from an affidavit by Lieutenant Colonel Darrel Vandeveld, who was a prosecutor at the military commissions in Guantanamo. And he was assigned to prosecute a Guantanamo detainee, a young man named Mohammed Jawad. And like all of the Guantanamo prosecutors, he was operating in the dark. He had no idea how the person who he was supposed to prosecute had been interrogated or treated.

And so he was going about building his case against him. And at one point at one of the hearings Mohammed Jawad starts telling the story about how he'd been subjected to this program, which came to be known as the “frequent flyer program” of being moved from cell to cell, just to keep him from sleeping.

And Vandeveld thought this was baloney. He thought he was just making this up. And, you know complaining about mistreatment. So he proceeded. But as he went on, he came to discover, that in fact, Mohammed Jawad had been abused. So this is his affidavit that he filed, actually in Mohammed Jawad's habeas corpus petition.

BILL MOYERS: So set this up for me.

LARRY SIEMS: This is Colonel Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor of the military commissions in Guantanamo.

MORRIS DAVIS: In the summer of 2007, a few months before I resigned as the chief prosecutor for the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay, Lieutenant Colonel, Darrel Vandeveld joined my staff. And I assigned him to the case of Mohammed Jawad. In 2008 Lieutenant Colonel Darrel Vandeveld feeling an ethical conflict, removed himself from the case and provided a sworn statement to the ACLU as part of Mr. Jawad’s habeas corpus petition. This is a portion of Lieutenant Colonel Vandeveld’s sworn statement.

I, Darrel Vandeveld, declare as follows: I am a Lieutenant Colonel in the Judge Advocate General Corps. […] I was the lead prosecutor assigned to the Military Commissions case against Mr. Jawad until my resignation in September 2008. Initially, the case appeared to be a simple street crime, as I had prosecuted by the dozens in civilian life. But eventually I began to harbor serious doubts about the strength of the evidence. […] I learned that the written statement characterized as Jawad’s personal confession could not possibly have been written by him because Jawad was functionally illiterate and could not read or write and the statement was not even in his native language.

I also found evidence that Mr. Jawad had been badly mistreated by U.S. authorities both in Afghanistan and Guantánamo. Mr. Jawad’s prison records referred to a suicide attempt, a suicide which he sought to accomplish by banging his head repeatedly against one of his cell walls. The records reflected 112 unexplained moves from cell to cell over a two week period, an average of eight moves per day for 14 days. Mr. Jawad had been subjected to a sleep deprivation program known as the “frequent flyer program.”

I lack the words to express the heartsickness I experienced when I came to understand the pointless, purely gratuitous mistreatment of Mr. Jawad by my fellow soldiers.

It is my opinion, based on my extensive knowledge of the case, that there is no credible evidence or legal basis to justify Mr. Jawad’s detention in U.S. custody or his prosecution by military commission. Holding Mr. Jawad for six years, with no resolution of his case and with no terminus in sight, is something beyond a travesty. […] Six years is long enough for a boy of sixteen to serve in virtual solitary confinement in a distant land, for reasons he may never fully understand. Mr. Jawad should be released to resume his life in a civil society, for his sake, and for our own sense of justice and perhaps to restore a measure of our basic humanity.

BILL MOYERS: What a turn of events.

LARRY SIEMS: Amazing. Amazing. But not unprecedented. The accounts are full of stories like this. And the thing that compelled me through this work for 18 months was the incredible heroism and the incredible acts of conscience of individuals who were put in these situations.

These are very, very human stories. These are individual stories. Individual grappling with their own consciences. Another Guantanamo prosecutor named Stuart Couch, who was a Marine pilot who's-- one of his best friends was one of the pilots who flew-- was in the planes that flew into the trade center, was killed. He re-upped. He went back to the military to prosecute cases, went to Guantanamo and was assigned to prosecute the case of a guy named Mohamedou Ould Slahi, who was supposed to have recruited some of those hijackers on those planes.

And so he was quite excited about the opportunity to get some justice for his friend. When he first went to Guantanamo, he just went to observe an interrogation and went into one of the trailers and saw the strobe lights and the Metallica music playing and the detainees shackled to the ground.

And he had been through the SERE training program. And he knew immediately what was going on. So he was a little bit suspicious of how we were getting intelligence.

And Stuart Couch describes himself as an evangelical Christian. And he wrestled with his conscience. He talked to his minister. He talked to other members of the military about what he was seeing and people were saying, "You should speak up." But he sat on the fence and he wrestled. And then one day he was in church, on Sunday, for a baptism as he describes it. And the liturgy included the words about the dignity of every human being. And he said that was it.

BILL MOYERS: What did you learn about torture in this work, that you didn't know?

DOUG LIMAN: What shocked me about the memos that Larry and the ACLU uncovered was on one hand how much they contradicted the values that are so important to me as an American, that the government could have not only allowed this to happen, but actually encouraged this to happen. Actually made it legal for this to happen. You know?

And the same time that it again reaffirmed some of my hope and belief in this country, because in the face of this, and all of this pressure, the book is filled with document after document of people who knew this was wrong, and chose to speak out about it.

BILL MOYERS: What techniques of torture were used that would force a confession? We know about waterboarding. But what are the others?

LARRY SIEMS: When you think about reading a book like this, you would think you're going to be subjected to some very horrific, grim, bloody scenes. You know, in fact there was not a lot of physical barbarity. You know?

It's a kind of a relentless degradation, and a relentless assault on the dignity of the person. They very rarely touch a prisoner.

They very rarely do, because they want to preserve the sort of mockingly, this false idea that they follow the rules. But we all know this is torture, this is what they said, so it's things like sleep deprivation. One of the most famous, and well-documented interrogations which was also the subject of you know, ongoing trench warfare, between the F.B.I. and the criminal investigative task forces in Guantanamo, saying, "Stop this."

And the military, on the other hand, saying, "Do this," is the interrogation of this guy Mohammed al-Qahtani, that's carried out over several months, but the most intense period is a 50-day interrogation where they allow this man to sleep for only four hours a day, for 50 days. And then during that time, it's sleep deprivation, it's temperature manipulation.

And then endless, endless humiliations. Just mocking him all the time. At one point dressing him in a bra and panties. Calling him a homosexual. Another time, inflating a latex glove, and slapping him on the face with it, and calling it-- and putting a-- making him wear a sign that says "Coward," and slapping with this sissy-slap glove.

Have a female interrogator constantly getting up in his face, constantly touching him, you know, to constantly sort of just-- what things that, you know, people who looked at this would say, "Well, that constituted an assault, under the universal-- under the Uniform Code of Military Justice." But it wasn't punching him. It's just invading his space. This constant--

BILL MOYERS: Psychological warfare, not physical cruelty.

LARRY SIEMS: Absolutely. and the purpose, as the designers of this program said, was to develop a state of learned helplessness. That was the phrase that they used. You want to break down a person. Now, essentially so they will do what you say they, so that they are compliant.

So again, back to the idea that there's a ticking time bomb scenario. The whole purpose of the techniques that we used was not to get an immediate confession. You know, this was to break people down, to make them compliant. And ultimately, in many cases, it was then to put a piece of paper in front of them, and say, "Sign this."

DOUG LIMAN: And some of the techniques were more physical but also leave no scars. So, you know, it's a technique that's spread out throughout the book called "Walling."


DOUG LIMAN: Walling. The, literally, sounds like it would be, you know, something that, you know, I would put in a film when I was trying to show, like, a gangster, beating up a rival gang. Like, here's this drug gang, attacking this drug gang.

But, again, it's something that actually detailed in the John Yoo memo, as one of the techniques that's okay for the U.S. government to do to detainees, called walling, which involves wrapping something behind their neck, so you don't break their neck, and then slamming them into the wall.

There's documents that describe specifically what kind of wall to build, so that you inflict maximum pain, but minimum scarring. So that there's no evidence of what you did to the person. Waterboardings, you know, the most extreme example of it. Because it leaves no scars whatsoever. Except psychological ones. But if, I mean, you can try it yourself at home. You can—

BILL MOYERS: Thanks, I’ll pass.

DOUG LIMAN: I mean, you could take a-- honestly. Lie on your back, and take a wet wash cloth, and put it over your face, and just have somebody dump some water over you. And now imagine that happening to you when you're strapped down, and have no control over it. And these are all techniques designed to physically harm the person, but leave no scars.

LARRY SIEMS: There are trained interrogators who fought against this the whole time. The career interrogators of the F.B.I. What's interesting is, you know, at 9/11, the C.I.A. had no interrogators. This was not their job.

And that-- you know, and one of the first documents in the book is that President Bush signs an order days after the 9/11 attack, giving the C.I.A. power to detain and interrogate suspects. They don't have interrogators. They've never done this. The F.B.I. trained interrogators say, all along, this doesn't work. The thing that works is rapport-building. This is the thing that—

BILL MOYERS: What? Rapport--

LARRY SIEMS: Rapport-building. You know, you build rapport--

BILL MOYERS: Become a--

LARRY SIEMS: Trust me.


DOUG LIMAN: I can help you.

BILL MOYERS: I'm one of you.


BILL MOYERS: Really I'm on your side. I'll help you out in this.

LARRY SIEMS: And there's a-- you know, there's a very famous confrontation that happens over the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, which involves this very skillful F.B.I. interrogator named Ali Soufan. Who confront this guy, James Mitchell, who's one of the architects, the C.I.A. contractors who devises this alternative, enhanced interrogation technique regime.

And Ali Soufan is you know, he's nursing Abu Zubaydah, who's been shot. He's feeding him ice, for his fever, but also developing rapport with him, and getting information. That information is going back to Washington. Everybody's like, this is wonderful. And then the C.I.A. finds out that it's not their guys who are getting this information, it’s the F.B.I. So they said, No. We want our guys to do this. We want to get the credit for this.

Ali Soufan ends up having a shouting match with James Mitchell, saying, you know, James Mitchell shows up with one of these confinement boxes. And Ali Soufan says, I swear to God, I'll have you arrested. What you're talking about doing here is illegal.

Not only that, every time the C.I.A. guys go in, and start working on Abu Zubaydah, he's shuts up. Every time they pull out, the information stops. And then for about two weeks there's this back and forth, and they'll send back in the F.B.I. team, and it'll take them a little longer now to get back the rapport. But then Abu Zubaydah will relax, and start talking some more. And then they'll say, no, no, no. We want our guys to-- we want to do this our way. And then send them back in. So you know, there's no secret to interrogation.

Law enforcement, you think, you know are these detainees any more diabolical than some of our domestic criminals that we have to interrogate? Serial killers, you know hardened gangsters. You know, ruthless mobsters. I mean, no. And we know how to interrogate them and get information

LARRY SIEMS: We have the impression, I think we've been given the impression that there was some kind of real method to this. And they were, you know. I mean, in fact, and they thought there was. It was kind of a pseudo-science. When we were interrogating Abu Zubaydah in Thailand, James Mitchell was sending cables back and forth every day to the White House. And each one of those cables would ask permission to do one of these things. It was just this whole "Mother may I?" process. You know?

BILL MOYERS: Going right to the White House?

LARRY SIEMS: Going back to the White House. Yep, going to the C.I.A. and the C.I.A. would report to the White House on what was going on. I mean, the chain of--

DOUG LIMAN: Culpability.

LARRY SIEMS: --culpability is very clear. The orders were coming from Washington. But, so that gives the impression that this is some kind of, you know, extremely scientific, effective regime. But it was really stupidity. At one point in Guantanamo, somebody proposing, proposes taping a detainees mouth shut for several days, on the assumption that when you take the tape off, they'll finally, they'll just blurt out stuff.

BILL MOYERS: You say in the book, and there are some sequences in your film, that our officials tortured the innocent and the guilty alike. And tortured to get specific information, such as Al Qaeda's ties to Saddam Hussein, tortured to hide their mistakes, tortured people to break them. And then you say they sometimes conspired to cover up their crimes. And they tortured to cover up a mistake. Give me an example of who they tortured to cover up a mistake.

LARRY SIEMS: The government knew by August of 2002 that over 80 percent of the people in Guantanamo should not be there, had no business being there. The C.I.A. did an internal audit in August of 2002 that leaked out to the press. And yet, you know, and you're talking, at that time, of over 700 people. And so one of the preoccupations from a public relations point of view, became how are we going to support that we've told about these people who when Guantanamo opened, Donald Rumsfeld declared "the worst of the worst." You know?

General Myers said, these are people who will chew through the hydraulic lines of a transport jet in order to bring it down. And it turns out most of them were in the wrong place at the wrong time. So, you know, the case I know, in one recent habeas corpus case, the testimony was based on the incriminating evidence was based on testimony given by Binyam Mohamed, who had been brutally tortured in Morocco.

And when he was in Morocco, he says that interrogators started to bring him photographs of people. And saying, "These are the people that you're going to testify against." He was moved to a place that a C.I.A. secret prison called the Dark Prison in Afghanistan. And they kept rehearsing him on what his testimony was going to be.

BILL MOYERS: Doug, there's one document from August 2002 written by John Yoo, it's titled, "Standards of Conduct for Interrogation." And it says, they laid out a blueprint for getting around the ban on torture. Asserted that abuse becomes torture only if it results in organ failure, death, or years of mental torment. And then only if the torturer specifically intends to--

DOUG LIMAN: Torturer.

BILL MOYERS: --inflict such extreme bad damage." What do you make of that?

DOUG LIMAN: It's an extraordinary memo, because, it's got sort of a circular logic to it. That it's really only torture if we say it's torture. And if we say it's not torture, it's not torture.

Then if you look at the specifics of what it says is allowed, things like walling, the behavior's so thuggish and so clearly torture.

LARRY SIEMS: And interestingly, when you talk about the damage of torture, you know, we're not only talking about damage to the people who have been tortured. But you're talking about the damage that we have done to our service men and women, who we've put in a position that, you know, required them to violate their training, to violate their consciences. And there's the damage that's happened to the careers of many of the dissenters, people who stood up, felt they had to resign, were blackballed within the services, have had to leave the services. And we leave them carrying the burden of conscience.

BILL MOYERS: Where are we now? I mean, when Barack Obama came and took the oath of office, he said, no more torture. And he said, but let's don't look backward. Let's look forward. So where are we on the issue of torture now?

LARRY SIEMS: I really think we're exactly in a limbo. I think unless you look backward, unless you look backward, you can't move forward. That's what the history of recovery from human rights abuses around the world has taught.

The world knows that when you have periods of human right violations, a process has to happen of publicly encountering and reckoning with what happened. It doesn't necessarily involve prosecutions, but it involves truth telling. Why? Because the victims need to be recognized as human beings. They need to have their experience acknowledged publicly. And that's a crucial, crucial process. And we haven't done that.

BILL MOYERS: Is there a turn in the gross national psychology of a people, when we give a pass to this sort of thing?

LARRY SIEMS: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think it's very, very corrosive. Think about postwar German literature, for example. One of the things that writers have often done in this process is they expand the circle of responsibility.

It's not, it's just not us and those Nazis who did this. The question for German society becomes, "How did this happen in our society? And to what extent were we complicit?" I mean I think, you know, that's one of the reasons we need a public accounting. We have essentially communicated to successive administrations now that, "You do whatever you need to do and we will give you a pass."

BILL MOYERS: But listen to this. According to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, 53 percent of self-identified liberal Democrats and 67 percent of moderate or conservative Democrats support keeping Guantanamo Bay open. Seventy-seven percent of liberal Democrats endorse the use of drones, which we know kill innocent civilians. What does that say about the moral compass both of you have talked about?

DOUG LIMAN: I think your statistics would be very different. And if you polled people who actually went to the "Reckoning With Torture" website or read the book. I think you would find probably 95 percent of conservatives, liberals, anyone would say that torture is wrong. And that this was this program was wrong.

BILL MOYERS: What would change their mind?

DOUG LIMAN: The specifics of it. It's sort of very easy if it's sort of take things are happening in a faraway place. People you don't know with weird-sounding names. You don't have to pay attention to it. So okay, whatever, it's fine. But if you're forced to confront it, or if you stage one of the readings yourself and you hear the words spoken about somebody who was tortured, I don't know any human being anywhere who would say that that was okay.

BILL MOYERS: So what are you trying to do with the website, you're asking us, as citizens, to take our own little camera. And take one of these documents. What do you want us to do?

DOUG LIMAN: We have posted a number of the documents that have been declassified, you know, and put them into sort of script form.

And we're asking people to stage their own readings. These days, it's hard to find a cell phone that doesn't contain the ability to record a video. So just take a few minutes, go to the website, pick a document, and somebody reads it and the other person films it. And for both people involved, you know, it will change your life.

BILL MOYERS: I want to play one for you and the audience. But set up what we're about to see.

LARRY SIEMS: This particular clip is a young New Yorker reading the testimony of Khaled El-Masri, who's a German citizen, who the United States utterly, mistakenly renditioned to the Middle East for torture. Deliberately to be tortured, mistaken identity, wrong man.

ZACK DE LA ROUDA: The US policy of “extraordinary rendition” has a human face, and it is mine.

I was born in Kuwait and raised in Lebanon. In 1985, I fled to Germany in search of a better life. I became a citizen and started my own family. I have five children.

On December 31, 2003, I took a bus from Germany to Macedonia. When we arrived, Macedonian agents confiscated my passport and detained me for 23 days. I was not allowed to contact anyone.

I was forced to record a video saying I had been treated well. I was handcuffed, blindfolded and taken to a building where I was severely beaten. My clothes were sliced from my body with a knife or scissors, and my underwear was forcibly removed. I was thrown to the floor, my hands pulled behind me, a boot placed on my back […] The following night my interrogations began. They asked me if I knew why I had been detained. I did not. They told me I was now in a country with no laws, and did I understand what that meant?

LARRY SIEMS: You know, the United States has not officially apologized to Khaled El-Masri. He had been told that Condoleezza Rice apologized to the Germans privately. But there's never been a public apology to him.

And I think for him, I can think of how meaningful it will be for him, at least to see Americans encountering his experience and speaking his experience, internalizing his experience. That's something. That's something huge, I think, for him.

DOUG LIMAN: It's emotional for me just to sort of start to see, you know, Americans of every size and color sort of step forward and participate in this project. My father, you know, subscribed to Justice Brandeis' mantra that sunlight is the best disinfectant.

And that seeing just ordinary Americans come forward and speak these words out loud is a step of acknowledging the wrong that happened. And it's the fact that ordinary Americans are stepping forward to do it or the Obama Administration may not be willing to do it, so the American people are stepping forward and doing it.

LARRY SIEMS: The test of character is what you-- how you respond when you realize that you've gone astray. And I do think that this country, historically, has had an ability to examine, you know, when it's critical. And make apologies and make adjustments.

The question is what happens if we don’t, you know? And I think in this case to not examine these things and to not reckon with them is first of all, to reward bad leadership.

Because I think real story is there was bad leadership. That these guys weren't operating in a vacuum having to make stuff up on their own. They were ignoring good advice that was saying, don't do these things. It doesn't work. You know? When, if that's the record, I think, you know, we have a responsibility for asking our leaders to account for themselves for that kind of behavior.

The other thing is I think it's, you know, I think if we don't get this right, if we don't reckon with this, we're essentially saying, go ahead and lie to us. Go head. That's fine. We don't, you know, tell us the story that this worked, tell us the story that this was necessary, tell us the story that you were right, that we should just trust you. And I am unable to take that kind of position. I just can't, I can't accept being lied to like that.

BILL MOYERS: Tell us the website again.

DOUG LIMAN: It takes you through the process. Pick a script, pick a document, and film yourselves reading one of these documents.

It is a cleansing act. It is a patriotic act. It's an act that will make this country stronger. It is taking responsibility for something that was done in the name of this country. And saying, we acknowledge we made a mistake. We're acknowledging the mistake. And we're ready to move forward. But you have to acknowledge the mistake first.

LARRY SIEMS: I think that, that phrase "cleansing act" is great. I mean, that really is something transformative about the process of this project, you know?

And it is amazing to hear this, these words that have been suppressed, that we were never supposed to hear spoken out loud. There's something really empowering about that. And I do think the idea, the way this is structured. We've done that. Now it's open to a national performance. Everybody should be part of this performance. Everybody should be part of this. And I think when, you know, when it's all brought together into one document I think the experience will be, you know, extremely cleansing.

BILL MOYERS: Facing the truth is what you're asking us to do?

LARRY SIEMS: The truth is there. The truth is there. And the question is what you do when it's there.

BILL MOYERS: I have looked at the website. I have read the book. They are both remarkable contributions to facing the truth. And I thank you, Doug Liman and Larry Siems for joining us on the broadcast.

DOUG LIMAN: Thank you.

LARRY SIEMS: Thank you so much.

READER 1: Date of Death: June 6th, 2003. Decedent is a 52 year old Iraqi Male, Civilian Detainee…

READER 2: An Iraqi National, died while detained at the Abu Ghraib prison where he was held for interrogations by government agencies…

READER 3: This Iraqi died while in U.S. custody. The details surrounding the circumstances at the time of death are classified.

READER 1: …died as a result of asphyxia (lack of oxygen to the brain) due to strangulation…

READER 2: Fractures of the ribs and a contusion of the left lung imply significant blunt force…

READER 1: Cause of Death: Strangulation. Manner of Death: Homicide.

READER 2: Manner of Death: Homicide.

READER 3: Manner of death: Homicide.

BILL MOYERS: So here we are, into our eleventh year after 9/11, still at war in Afghanistan, still at war with terrorists, still at war with our collective conscience as we grapple with how to protect our country from attack without violating the basic values of civilization -- the rule of law, striving to achieve our aims without corrupting them, and restraint in the use of power over others, especially when exercised in secret.

Meanwhile, the news keeps coming. Five of the Guantanamo prisoners were recently arraigned before a military commission for their role in the attacks. One of them is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who says he was the mastermind behind 9/11. He was waterboarded by interrogators 183 times. Pentagon officials predict it will be at least another year before the five go on trial.

Then there’s Mohammed al-Qahtani, the so-called “20th hijacker” who didn’t make it onto the planes. Lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights have filed suit in New York federal court to make public what they described as “extremely disturbing” videotapes of his interrogations. He remains in indefinite detention, as does Abu Zubaydah. Just this week a federal appeals court refused to release information on the interrogation methods the CIA used on Abu Zubaydah and other terrorist suspects.

As for John Yoo, the architect of the August 2002 memo that authorized waterboarding - he’s teaching law at the University of California, Berkeley and no doubt breathing easier after a recent appeals court rejected a lawsuit from American citizen Jose Padilla, who’s currently serving time for allegedly aiding terrorists. He accused John Yoo of giving the go-ahead for torture.

Two final thoughts: At our website,, we will link you to an excerpt from the documentary we produced a decade ago on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, where whites and blacks were struggling to confront the cruelty inflicted on human beings during apartheid:

RADIO HOST: It’s twelve minutes to seven. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission resumes public hearings.

WOMAN 1: They tortured him and cut off his hands. They shot him and blew him up.

MAN 1: We were lying on the floor and the police were really firing at us.

MAN 2: The act of opening the magazine was the detonating device for a bomb.

WOMAN 2: Pieces of human brains, all of it was scattered around.

MAN 3: I stepped over the bodies, reached my wife, saw that she had been shot.

DESMOND TUTU: We found that very, very many of those who came found the telling, just the telling, in a way, a very cathartic, a very healing thing. Because most of those who came are people who for almost all of their lives had been treated as non-entities.

BILL MOYERS: Seeing the film again caused me to wonder once more, as I often have, what might have resulted if after our own brutal civil war we had created a truth and reconciliation commission aimed at healing the deep wounds of slavery and slaughter. We’ll never know.

And perhaps you caught something said the other day by the president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff. She was held in prison and tortured repeatedly by the military dictators who ruled her country in the seventies and eighties. The state of Rio de Janeiro has announced it will officially apologize to her. Earlier, when she swore in members of a commission investigating the dictatorship, President Rousseff said: “We are not moved by revenge, hate or a desire to rewrite history. The need to know the full truth is what moves us."

That’s it for this week. See you next time.

Reckoning with Torture

May 25, 2012

After 9/11, the U.S. government turned to torture — in defiance of domestic and international laws — to extract information about and from terrorists and others who might follow after them. Were it not for defense attorneys and the work of human rights organizations, these prisoners would be ignored. But that’s changing.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the international literary and human rights group PEN have teamed up to comb through 150,000 declassified documents — as well as large collections of articles and transcripts — to produce The Torture Report: What the Documents Say About America’s Post-9/11 Torture Program, written by PEN’s Larry Siems. PEN and the ACLU have also staged readings of excerpts from the documents and first-person testimony at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah and Lincoln Center here in New York.

Those readings have been videotaped and are being made into a documentary by movie director Doug Liman called Reckoning with Torture. Liman is now asking people across the country to videotape their own readings of declassified memos and testimonies for the project. Learn how to get involved.

On this weekend’s Moyers & Company, Siems, director of the Freedom to Write and International Programs at PEN American Center, and Liman, whose credits include The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and Fair Game, join Bill Moyers to talk about what we should be learning from and doing about U.S. torture tactics.

“We made mistakes. We made grave, serious mistakes of judgment,” Siems tells Moyers, “And we would be stronger as a nation, if we stood up and said, ‘We did these things. We’re sorry. We’re gonna do better.'”

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  • Waynewilson31

    without such things as waterboarding or as you would call it torture your savior obama would never have had all the information he had to find and kill bin laden. and what is your position on killing like in killing bin laden…is that not worse than torture?

  • johann

    The information obtained to find out the whereabouts of bin laden was not obtained by torture. 

  • Nanrfull2

    The end can never justify the means. Coming to terms with mistakes made may be the only way we can redeem ourselves as human beings. I value the opportunity discussed in this program that provides us with acknowledging  the mistakes made. Truth telling can never hurt if done honestly and with compassion. I hope all that are able to contribute to this website will do so.

  • Jane

    Flying into buildings, by radical muslums, is torture.

  • Fredlevinson

    Sick people have sick opinions. Truth is a medicine that sick minds like Waynewilson cannot swallow. If the Bush gang had this information, why wait for Obama to get bin Laden? Sick reasoning!!

  • Anonymous

    Obama’s legacy is going as the president who refused to bring to justice some of America’s most egregious criminals, whether Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, or any of the banksters.

    But that narrative will run parallel to the ones that will be written by the presidential biographers — Michael Beschloss, Doris Kearns, et al — all of whom inevitably fall in love with their subjects and will try to paper it over.

  • Anonymous

    No doubt.  But repaying ignorance with ignorance just produces phenomena such as the undercurrent of revenge that continues to flow through American foreign policy.

    Didn’t your mama ever tell you that two wrongs don’t make a right?

  • Anonymous

    There is no justification for the CIA’s actions of torture. Period. It’s truly shameful to realize that our country has stooped this low. To paraphrase the statement from one of the military women “If we don’t play by the rules of the Geneva Convention, how can we expect other militaries to?”

    But what is most disconcerting is what is happening to our laws here. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) could enable the indefinite detention of American citizens. Detention until the “War on Terror” is over. And we know that the war on terror will never be over. Especially, as long as we promote retaliation for the wrongs we commit to other nations. Imagine going to the corner store to get a pack of smokes and a six pack and never coming back home. No word to your wife and kids; your parents; your friends. “You were part of the Occupy Movement and we consider you dangerous to the state.”

    It would be great to view other viewpoints on the how’s and why’s of the United States justification for torture. Unfortunately, I believe this online discussion will have a short input before encountering Godwin’s Law. 

  • VeritasAmore

    This is a story that has been buried, intentionally in my opinion, for far too long. Despite the film maker’s declarations to the contrary, organizations such as Wikileaks are necessary so long as there are people in positions of power who are willing (or needing) to keep certain details of unsavory or immoral actions of the government or its agents under wraps, i.e., there will never be a time when people of integrity and honor will need protection from the powers that be when nefarious deeds are accomplished in the dark of night, away from the prying eyes of the public or investigative journalists. I say this with full knowledge that corporate media and their infotainment divisions have little time or inclination to question military or administration officials during these increasingly ideological times when groups claim their own truth, something unheard of in modern America.

  • VeritasAmore

    I agree that the possibility exists as you predict and I, for one, have been desperately disappointed at Obama’s inaction. Then again, the GOP/TeaParty noise machine has ensured that the President has been distracted by lies, distortions, and ludicrousness beyond anything erected against the Clinton’s during Bill’s economically successful but ethically deplorable administrations. Let’s hope Barack is just waiting for a second term…maybe then he can correct the misrepresentation that Kenya is an East African nation that’s a part of the Hawaiian archipelago, at least since 2007/8, right? 😉

  • gc.wall

    One of the more disturbing aspects of this story is that some medical professionals, (psychologists and M.D.s,) were involved in the torture program. Somehow the concept of “do no harm” was lost on these people.

    An excuse often said about those involved in the torture program was that they did so for “patriotic” reasons, and the excuse makers claimed it was a necessity for national defense. If the people involved in the torture programs were actually patriots they would have refused to act on unlawful orders.

    The acceptance of John Yoo’s half-baked rationalizations justifying the use of torture is the same as an adult accepting the Santa Claus story. A panel of judges could not do what they wanted to do; they wanted to exonerate him, but doing so would have shocked a first year law student, besides exoneration implies guilt. The judges would have none of that. What they did instead was even worse. They answered a question that wasn’t asked, and determined that there was no evidence that revealed a pattern of wrong-doing, (I can’t believe he is a law professor when dog catcher is more his actual level of competence.)

    The judges concluded that although  it appeared that John Yoo began with the conclusion he wanted and then worked backward. His legal opinions were amateurish; the equivalent to those of a first year law student. Although the quality of his writing was low and the arguments were weak Mr. Yoo was just a good guy doing his patriotic duty, were the panel’s conclusion. His loyalty to Bush policies continues to reward him, because he was not charged, continues to have a law license, and teaches at a major university, (whose administration should be ashamed,) but shame seems to be in short supply among certain personality types these days.

    An inability to experience shame is like a plague among authoritarians. A lack of shame permits them to act without mercy, or instinct for injustice.

  • Viido

    I have the same revulsion for doctors who are on site during executions in the United States.  I believe society has the right to exclude those who endanger its members, but when we accept clinical execution, we become just as bad.   Individuals that can not be trusted to live among us, should simply be placed outside of the bounds of society. Place on an iceberg or drop the individual into the Amazon jungle. The idea that somehow they will survive is highly unlikely but at least if they cant live amongst people, they have chosen to live at the mercy of nature, and to me that seems better. I was horrified when I watched Ms Clinton and President Obama cheering while witnessing the execution of a human being regardless of who it was. This simply demonstrated to me how, depending on the circumstances, anyone can witness a fellow human being being killed and with glee. 

  • Sferris 1

    It seems to me that the world lacks any semblance of integrity. Torture is wrong. History has shone us it to be immoral. But alas Americans can torture with impunity. Where are MEN.

  • concernedcitizen

    The real question is, confronted with the knowledge that 

         *U S policy makers knew that an overwhelming majority of those held at  Gitmo did not have terrorist connections, were   innocent  of any wrongdoing 

         *torture does not result in the extraction of useful intelligence

         *torturing the inmates at Gitmo meant that our own soldiers were more likely to suffer the same fate at the hands of others

         *torture is morally reprehensible,

    why did President Bush, followed by President Obama,  condone such behavior?  

    To be accurate, Obama does not seem to be bothering with torture anymore.  He sends in drones to kill people who have not been charged or convicted of any crime and the innocents nearby who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    We must insist they answer this question.

  • TJ

    I agree that torture is wrong and it is ineffective. However, please remember when you are listening to these orators that many of these men being held in Guantanamo are not random people plucked off the street. They would kill your babies in their cribs if they got a chance. They are not wonderful human beings who, if just given a chance, would sit down with you and become your lifelong friend. There ARE evil people in this world, some of them right here in the US, in the government too, and while they are describing how horrific the torture was, I wouldn’t go and feel too badly about some of them. (I define “evil” not in the religious sense but in the sense that a person is beyond reform–someone who is incapable of changing their mind and becoming “good” to other humans whom they hate.) 

    Too many liberals truly think, deep down in their heart, that every person who does wrong can simply be talked out of their hate and reformed. Well, many of these people, before they were taken to Gitmo, were already terrible people and would have stayed that way if they had not been caught. They killed innocent people, they planned to kill innocent people, and they would kill more innocent people regardless of what you would do.Once again, however, I am not condoning torture. If there is evidence against them, try them and put them in prison. If not, let them go and close Gitmo. But remember, some times you can’t “love” your way through certain situations.  Right now there are thousands of people who would kill you just because you’re American and they won’t change their minds even if they got to know you personally and liked you. An immediate change in policy, and education for the future generations seem to be the best solutions.

  • Anonymous

    Philip Green said it best:

    “… a people that accepts, as a normal course of events, the bombing of civilians, torture, kidnapping, indefinite detention, assassinations, secret governments at home and covert wars abroad, has lost touch with the moral basis of civil society.”

  • Nsahackedmyemail

    An absolutely spot on and
    fascinating program Bill. Considering the revisionist BS 60 Minutes
    allowed on their program (oh for a handful of Mike Wallaces for the
    last decade) over the last few weeks, this was sorrily needed. THANKS!

  • World Citizen and are both down! Why?

  • Jane

    3,000 Americans died and don’t recall hearing torture killed any of the killers of these people. They killed, we tortured, big difference. Yes, my “mama” taught me much about life.

  • Col Morris Davis

    If you believe we got bin Laden because of waterboarding then I suppose you believe Saddam had WMD and unemployment is high because of Obama’s crushing tax burden on the “job creators.”  The “ticking time bomb” scenario is the one usually offered to try and provide some moral justification for engaging in torture.  Most people assume … as was the case on 24 … that the justification stems from the imminent threat of death or serious harm in the next 8 minutes, or 8 hours, or maybe even 8 days.  In this case, it was 8 years between waterboarding and killing bin Laden.  You don’t need a watch to measure that, you need a series of calendars.  The death of bin Laden had nothing to do with waterboarding other than it gave a couple of war criminals a falsehood they could pander as an excuse for their crimes.

  • The Other Katherine Harris

    There’s always been evil, but at least we used to agree on what it was. Only since the Thatcher and Reagan years has it shamelessly paraded as good — not long enough to eradicate conscience, although it’s no more than a vestigial structure in many of us.

    Sadly, this worthy project stands little chance of reaching those whose consciences most need the exercise.   Nobody can make them take part.  Imagine the grief any teacher or religious leader would get if s/he tried forcing a captive audience to watch the film or stage a reading, even though the material clearly belongs in classrooms and houses of worship.

  • Roger Teal

    Really good interview.  When I heard one of the guests talk about the way torture damages the service members and whistle-blowers, I immediately thought of the book “None of Us Were Like This Before” – a really incredible read.

    Glad to hear that Bill Moyers is still keep up the discussion on this topic!

  • Waynewilson31

    Dear Fredlevinson and to all others I might have offended…please forgive my inappropriate political comment. I am sorry. What I was poorly implying between the lines(due to lack of time) was that Pres. Obama’s head of counterterrorism John Brennan has said that much information has been gleaned and obtained from a variety of types of interrogations and counterterrorism policies that were started in 2001 and that as a result of that and years of intel gathering it all led to the killing of bin laden. In other words it was a joint effort of both administrations culminating in the death of the mass murderer bin laden. I hope this more adequately explains what I hurriedly was trying to say. 

  • Inkysquib7

    I guess your momma taught you that eating the fruit of ignorance tastes sweet but she forgot to tell you it rots your teeth. When you speak with a mouth of rotten teeth no body can hear anything but the stink.

  • Vic

    Is this an attempt to state that, because someone else is a torturer, anyone else, as well, is justified in becoming a torturer?   This nation is founded on principles of the Enlightenment.  We are a people of principle.  The Geneva Conventions uphold basic human rights in the conduct in war.  We are a signatory to the Geneva Conventions.  If we are to be a people of principle, our behavior must derive from principle; otherwise, we  betray ourselves and the good efforts of all who have gone before us.  Our behavior must not be guided by the poor behavior of others, whether foreign nationals or officials of our own government, but by our principles. 

  • James Michael McDaniel

    BUT  YOU  are already showing symptoms of a malignancy of the spirit!  
    We are one!

  • Matt Sarconi

    The recent ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals which threw out a pending lawsuit against Berkeley law professor John Yoo was based on creative parsing of a determined administration, and a disregard for both the Nuremberg trials and the Geneva Conventions. But what makes this ruling especially chilling, is that Jay Bybee, a sitting judge of this very court, worked with John Yoo to review and authorize the memos that allowed for the “enhanced interrogation techniques” that were the basis of the lawsuit. Orwell would be scared.

  • Matt Sarconi

    Yes, this absurd and disingenuous idea of Obama and others to “not look back, only forward” is such a lost opportunity to right a wrong and establish our proper moral standards. Anything short of full disclosure and accountability only reinforces and perpetuates the crimes. Short of this, the only thing that we have to “look forward” to is more of the same. 

    I can’t help wonder how different many things might’ve been since then had Ford held Nixon accountable for his crimes and actions. 

  • Matt Sarconi

    The Bush Cheney warmongers cited (false) information gathered through “enhanced interrogation” techniques from someone deemed “curveball”, to justify their decision to bomb Iraq. Yes, of course, they were looking to start a war no matter what, but “Curveball’s” information was -as often is most often the case with torture- the opposite of truthful. In every way, for all reasons, torture must not be utilized, and must be seen as an enemy to our goals.

  • William Waugh

    The first question of the program should have been “What does the evidence tell you, one way or the other, about the likelihood that US government officials and agents are still committing torture?”.

  • B Atlantic

    JUST ONCE….just once I’d like for one of these reports to include the details of the EXACT same “disappearing” and torture in foreign countries carried out in the 1990’s….INDEED ….Clinton-Gore’s administration practiced the exact same procedures against political detainees/prisoners as what happened after 9/11.  Come on Siems…write about a few of those cases…You don’t even have to go through the FOIA to get the material….just read the transcripts of the congressional hearings held in the late 1990’s wherein the CIA operatives were questioned by Congress.  If you can’t find under your the ignorance of your own  political agenda…let Google help you.

  • B Atlantic

    And I quote…
    December 6, 2005Beginning in the early 1990s and continuing to this day, the Central Intelligence Agency, together with other U.S. government agencies, has utilized an intelligence-gathering program involving the transfer of foreign nationals suspected of involvement in terrorism to detention and interrogation in countries where — in the CIA’s view — federal and international legal safeguards do not apply. Suspects are detained and interrogated either by U.S. personnel at U.S.-run detention facilities outside U.S. sovereign territory or, alternatively, are handed over to the custody of foreign agents for interrogation. In both instances, interrogation methods are employed that do not comport with federal and internationally recognized standards. This program is commonly known as “extraordinary rendition.”

  • B Atlantic

    December 6, 2005
    Beginning in the early 1990s and continuing to this day, the Central Intelligence Agency, together with other U.S. government agencies, has utilized an intelligence-gathering program involving the transfer of foreign nationals suspected of involvement in terrorism to detention and interrogation in countries where — in the CIA’s view — federal and international legal safeguards do not apply. Suspects are detained and interrogated either by U.S. personnel at U.S.-run detention facilities outside U.S. sovereign territory or, alternatively, are handed over to the custody of foreign agents for interrogation. In both instances, interrogation methods are employed that do not comport with federal and internationally recognized standards. This program is commonly known as “extraordinary rendition.”

  • B Atlantic

    So….will you call for Obama to prosecute Clinton & Gore along with Bush & Cheney???  No…I didn’t think you would!  LOL

  • Roy Eidelson

    We now know that psychologists tragically acted as planners, consultants, researchers,
    and overseers to these abusive and torturous interrogations. In the guise of
    keeping interrogations “safe, legal, ethical and effective,” psychologists
    were also used to provide legal protection for otherwise illegal treatment of


    The American
    Psychological Association’s (APA) 2005 Report of the Presidential Task Force on
    Psychological Ethics and National Security (the PENS Report) is the defining
    document endorsing psychologists’ engagement in detainee interrogations. With this stance,
    the APA, the largest association of psychologists worldwide, became the sole
    major professional healthcare organization to support practices contrary to the international human rights standards that
    ought to be the benchmark against which professional codes of ethics are

    The Coalition for an Ethical Psychology is spearheading a petition campaign to annul the PENS Report. To date, over 30 organizations (including the ACLU) and over 2,000 individuals have signed on. The petition is available for signing at

    The Coalition has also created an interactive Timeline of psychologist involvement in abusive and torturous interrogations at

  • Anonymous

     You nailed it Matt.  That was not justice, truth or the American way.  Yoo is a criminal.  The fact that he is teaching future lawyers aught to give all of us pause.

  • B Atlantic• In September 1995, U.S. intelligence agents reportedly picked up from Croatia one of Egypt’s most wanted Islamic militants, placed him on a ship in the Adriatic Sea for interrogation, and subsequently turned him over to Egyptian authorities. His family believes he was executed in Egypt.16  • In 1998, U.S. agents reportedly transferred Tallat Fouad Qassem, a leader of the Islamic Group, an Egyptian extremist organization, to Egypt after he was picked up in Croatia. Egyptian lawyers said he was questioned aboard a U.S. ship off the Croatian coast before he was taken to Cairo, where a military tribunal had already sentenced him to death in absentia.17• Also in 1998, CIA officers working with the Albanian police reportedly seized five members of Egyptian Islamic Jihad who were allegedly planning to bomb the U.S. embassy in Tirana. After three days of interrogation, the men were flown to Egypt, allegedly aboard a CIA-chartered plane; two of the men were put to death.

  • B Atlantic

    Mr. SCHEUER. Mr. Chairman, before my time starts, I would like 
    to note—I am sure it was a mistake, but the way your opening remarks were phrased, your quotations from me from  60 Minutes, I 
    was referring to the Clinton administration, not to the Bush administration. I am sure it was a juxtaposition somehow, but I 
    would like to have that corrected, sir. 
    Mr. DELAHUNT. Of course. 
    Mr. SCHEUER. All right. The CIA’s Rendition Program began in 
    late summer, 1995. I authored it and then ran and managed it 
    against al-Qaeda leaders and other Sunni Islamists from August, 
    1995, until June, 1999. 
    There were only two goals for the program: First, to take men 
    off the street who were planning or had been involved in attacks 
    on the United States or its allies; second, to seize hard copy or electronic documents in their possession when arrested. Americans 
    were never expected to read those, and they could provide options 
    for follow-on operations. 
    I would like to add interrogation was never a goal under President Clinton. Why? Because it would be a foreign intelligence or security service without CIA being present or in control who would 
    conduct the interrogation, because the take from the interrogation 
    would be filtered by that service holding the individual and we 
    never knew if it was complete or distorted, and because torture 
    might be used and the information might be simply what an individual thought we wanted to hear. 
    The Rendition Program was initiated because President Clinton 
    and Messrs. Lake, Berger and Clarke requested that the CIA begin 
    to attack and dismantle al-Qaeda. These men made it clear from 
    the first that they did not want to bring those captured to the 
    United States or to hold them in U.S. custody. 
    President Clinton and his national security team directed the 
    CIA to take each captured al-Qaeda leader to the country which 
    had an outstanding legal process for him. This was a hard-and-fast 
    rule which greatly restricted CIA’s ability to confront al-Qaeda because we could only focus on al-Qaeda leaders who were wanted 
    somewhere for a legal process. As a result, many al-Qaeda fighters 
    we knew of and who were dangerous to America could not be captured. 
    CIA warned the President and his National Security Council that 
    the U.S. State Department had and would identify the countries to 
    which the captured fighters were being delivered as human rights 
    In response, President Clinton and his team asked if CIA could 
    get each receiving country to guarantee that it would treat a person according to its own laws. This was no problem, and we did so. 
    I have read and been told that Mr. Clinton, Mr. Berger and Mr. 
    Clarke have said, since 9/11, that they insisted that each receiving 
    country treat the rendered person it received according to U.S. 
    legal standards. To the best of my memory, that is a lie. 
    After 9/11 and under President Bush, rendered al-Qaeda 
    operatives have been most often kept in U.S. custody. The goals of 
    the program remain the same, although Mr. Bush’s national secu-rity team wanted to use U.S. officers to interrogate captured alQaeda fighters. 
    This decision by the Bush administration allowed CIA to capture 
    al-Qaeda fighters we knew were a threat to the United States without on all occasions being dependent on the availability of another 
    country’s outstanding legal process. The decision made the already 
    successful Rendition Program even more effective.


    The Justice has turned blind eye many times, this was not an exception. To stop “the U.S. government  that turned to torture — in defiance of domestic and international laws,” I believe the people should be “Empower to express DIRECTLY their WILL on ALL ISSUE.” The Truth is no third person can
    really express my will now or the way I feel later.
    My complements for their hard work.

  • George M. Carter

    Great–but why are they refusing to call for the PROSECUTION of these war criminals? Yoo, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Bush, Tenant: the chain of culpability, as they note, is clear. And doesn’t this make the Obama administration accessories to torture and murder? The invasion and war on Iraq was a war crime in and of itself, in addition to the torture and extraordinary rendition of the very debased CIA.  Yes, indeed, the telling IS cathartic and telling–but justice demands appropriate prosecutions.

    Kudos to these men, just the same, and to YOU for some of the finest journalism that seems otherwise almost completely absent elsewhere in the “mainstream” media.
    (A PS–I thought it was so funny that 60 Minutes was able to extract a confession of his dismal acts of torture from Jose Rodriguez (4/29/12). Though he did desperately try to claim that torture provided useful information — whether because he is so used to lying or is deluded enought to believe his own nonsense is unclear. But no one had to torture him to extract HIS confession!)

  • Anonymous

    Surfed on this today:

    The British historian Gildas (c 500-570) in his diatribe against contemporary rulers in the early 500s, looking back over the story of the Fall of Roman Britain, lists the military failures, but behind them he speaks bitterly of a loss of nerve and direction, a failure of “group feeling”.

    Gildas talks about right-wing politicians advocating glibly attractive solutions that appealed to the populace while “any leader who seemed more soft, or who was more inclined to actually tell things as they are, was painted as ruinous to the country and everyone directed their contempt towards him”.

    Gildas also singles out his leaders’ sheer ineptitude and bad judgement, recalling some governments and financiers in today’s banking crisis.

    “Everything our leaders did to try to save the situation ended up having the opposite effect. Society became prey to corrosive quarrels and dissensions, anger towards the rich, and political opportunism was rife that made no distinction between right and wrong.”

  • Rickfmail

    Glad to see your still working toward exposing teranny. But…..unless someone with “gravitas” like you does a personal exposé on what does not add up about the events of 9/11 the room remains oppressively dominated by that 800 pound elephant. Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The US govt is absolute corruption and is a danger to the world population as well as the very people that support it.

    Good to see you doing something, But……

  • Daniel Pfeiffer

    Thank you, Mr. Moyers for bringing this national black eye back to the fore, and to your guests for their acts of conscience in producing the book and film.  Our shameful history of extraordinary rendition and torture is but one
    of many instances in which our government has rendering the rule of law,
    and thus our society, disturbingly irrelevant.  And it has pained me greatly, ever since that fateful September day, to realize just how much, in the name of the War on Terror, we have been asked by our government to deny in ourselves that which gives human life meaning: shared goals, shared sacrifice, and a shared faith in truth and justice, effectively denying us that which our collective human souls require to feel whole.

    You graciously responded to my last post to your program, encouraging me to keep the faith.  I do try.  I believe that one day soon we will collectively demand that the gap between our national conscience and our government’s actions be reconciled.  Perhaps you can find and interview a courageous leader that might begin this process?

  • Poster

    Just when I thought I’d mustered maximum indignation at the endless arch of leadership failures, Bill Moyers and his time put up another hero–two in the present case–to prime my pump for another rotation.

    To you and your team: thank-you.

  • Anonymous


    Moyers has already taken a stance on 9/11 . . .

  • Karl Hoff

    We should listen more to John McCain who is opposed to torture because he has actually been tortured? Maybe what we need to do is let all of these pro-torture people that say the techniques used are not torture prove their point by volunteering to go through what they say is not torture. Maybe a paid per view for a couple of days without sleep or food, waterboarding and all the other torturous way they say is not torture. Then get their opinion on what it is like. John McCain already knows!!

  • JH

     Indeed, there are evil people in the world- some of them are even US citizens. Documents obtained by PEN indicate that as many as 80% of those locked up in Gitmo were completely innocent and should never have been “plucked off the street.” I’d say the to deprive more than 500 people of basic rights in order to “catch” *maybe* 200 is pretty darned horrific in itself, wouldn’t you?

  • Matt sarconi

    Wolfowitz, Feith, Perle, Powell, Bybee and Ashcroft too. The dirty dozen.

  • Matt Sarconi

    Any first grader can tell you that any technique that imposes pain or discomfort in an attempted to extract information is torture. This debate is all just the nonsense. What has happened to this country? I think that in short, Eisenhower tried to warn us about war-for-profit, and what we’ve seen boils down to false motives. Our leaders have led us down, and the bar keeps lowering.

  • Matt Sarconi

    Nancy Pelosi knew about waterboarding, enhanced interrogation, and extraordinary rendition (and warrantless wiretapping on American citizens), yet kept quiet. And she denied this country any real inquiry into the Bush / Cheney war crimes by taking it “off the table”. Shouldn’t she be seen as an accomplice to these crimes? I am a Democrat from her 8th congressional district, but have been ashamed by her actions and non actions.

  • David

    This whole part that deals with the torture reminds me of the book “The Bridge at Andau” The book was written by Mitchner and was taken from accounts received at the Austrian border after their revolution. in 1956. That book was the first I had ever read of torture and what it is/was like. The reprehensible acts that I deplored and was against in “the Bridge at Andau”  Specifically the Chapter the AVO man was and is disgusting. Now there are people wearing the U.S. Uniform that I wore in the service and doing this same kind of torture in my name. Shame on them. 
         Our President signed the national Defense Authorization Act and surrendered all the rest of my civil rights because… He is afraid to be called a coward in an election year. Carl Levin gave him a chance to get that out out of of the act and President Obama refused. The NDAA authorizes the Military to act as police (contrary to the 145 year old Posse Commitatas act). The citizens of the united states to be arrested and indefinitely  with out charge . This reminds me of Germany in 1934. There is a provision for extrajudicial killings. People can have their lives taken without seeing a judge and jury first.  I guess I am voting socialist this year.

    Dave From Milwaukee

  • David

     I am no lawyer. Who could bring the case?

  • George M. Carter

     Agreed. David–excellent question. I would think the DoJ, but clearly, Mr. Holder as the Attorney General, is too cowardly, corrupt or frightened to do his Constitutionally mandated job. And unfortunately, Mr. Obama has played a game of political calculus and decided to jettison justice, the law and the Constitution, let alone international agreements, Geneva conventions and so forth. Our government is profoundly, and perhaps, irretrievably, corrupt.

  • Rose

    Will Cheney and Bush ever be held accountable for the war crimes they have committed.  Tears came to my eyes when I watched.  Our great country has lost its moral compass.  We are better than this.  

  • Lawrence Walton

    Listening to this interview I take away that nobody died, no one lost a limb but this was definitely all wrong for the United Staes.

    However when Larry Siem alluded what we need to do as a nation to deal witth this to what “post war Germany” did  he should have been slapped. Does 6 million dead ring a bell, this man needs to reasses his anti-American mouth.

  • Rhialto

    when Larry Siem alluded what we need to do as a nation to deal witth this to what “post war Germany” did  he should have been slapped…this man needs to reasses his anti-American mouth.

    There is a very fine film called Judgement at Nuremberg which among other things “examines the questions of individual complicity in crimes committed by the state.”

    Perhaps, this is what Mr. Siem was alluding to. Give it a watch and some thought.

  • Anntares

    Read Ali Soufan’s book “Black Banners” before you decide that transformative interrogations can’t work. Alternatives to torture can be more effective if you are skilled. South Africa found a way to end apartheid without the bloodbath of revenge many expected. 

    After 9/11, we could have eradicated terrorism and saved many US military and Iraqi/Afghani civilian lives if, instead of losing interest in Afghanistan and instead flexing our shock-n-aw muscles and occupying Iraq, we had partnered with most of the world’s nations that were ready to help us hunt down terrorists in every country, even in countries who felt jealousy or dislike toward the US. I do not underestimate terrorist risks. I could have died on the 105th floor of World Trade One if my job had not ended in March 01 and I worked with hundreds of the 9/11 dead. 

  • Charles-Eva Manning

    Every city, town, and village in the country has prosecutors with fire in their bellies, jumping at the opportunity put away crooks, drug addicts, and sexual offenders. The nation is inflamed by the cases of O.J. Simpson, Casey Anthony, and Phillip Garrido. But when it comes to blatant trashing of the national and international laws against torture, and now assassination by drone, there’s ice in the bellies. As Moyers’ chart shows, even “liberals” aren’t worried about our nation’s fall from grace. The outrage is limited to people like those referred to in Moyers’ piece; these are the few advocating for the torture and assassination victims. Even victims proven totally innocent have few advocates.

    Obama is as guilty as Bush – even more so, given the expanded use of drones. Obama should be punished. But unless Americans’ attitudes change drastically, the only available punishment at the moment would be to keep him from another term. If the few who care about torture and “targeted killing” withhold support, Obama could lose. If Romney wins, we can deal with him later if he doesn’t change his stand.

  • Anonymous

    Yes ,JH, giving someone the power to “pluck you off the streets” while denying you your basic civil rights is the beginning of the slippery slope heading for the tyranny of dictators.  Next we will have the secret police, neighbor spying on neighbor?  By allowing arrest without constitutional civil rights, we begin to erode the foundations of our democratic form of government.  By allowing the arrests and torture of 1, 2, 10, 70, 500 who is to say where it  will stop.

  • Avataress

    What an appropriate show for Memorial Day!  I just wanted to mention a slightly different take on what Moyers (rightly) categorized as psychological torture:

    There is a widespread secret psychological torture/warfare phenomenon, worldwide, which is rarely mentioned in the media in which large numbers of the American public take hearty part and have been doing so for at least three decades, against its own citizens.  It  is called variously, “gang stalking,” “cause stalking,” and “community stalking.”   A lone police officer, Lt. Larry Richard, of the City of Santa Cruz, CA, police dept. went on FOX TV News there in January of last year to decry this phenomenon in his neighborhood.  You can google his name to see the video.  To get more information, google the term “gang stalking.”

    And, yes, Rose, I think you have put it very succinctly and very accurately, most of us have lost our moral compasses.  The phenomena of this type we are seeing are to use the words of 1990 and 1991 New York State Teacher of the year, John Taylor Gatto, in describing his job duties as a teacher are, “strange, complex, and frightening.”

  • Avataress

     You might also want to read the book, “Are We All Nazis?” by Hans Askenasy.  I found it while browsing through the Queens Library’s catalog in the 1990’s to find interesting books to help me to pass the time under my state sanctioned torture, which has been going on for over three decades in this country, of which I am a native-born citizen.

  • Lawrence Walton

    Mr. Siem was responding to a question by Mr. Moyer about what we should do as a nation nothing else needs to be said. Regardless of any other fine work out there, Mr. Siem Jumped too post war Germany as an example. Definitely a comparison that should not ever be inferred.  Like I said. I would have slapped the ingrate.

  • Robert Lyons

    Cruel, degrading, and inhumane treatment — all of it against the laws of the United States and several international torture conventions — was systematic  throughout CIA and military detention facilities under Bush Administration guidance.  Criminal torture was rampant, and waterboarding — “on only 3 al-Qaeda figures” [sic] — was not the worst of it.   
    Human Rights Watch researcher and reporter, John Sifton, among others, estimates that 100 or more captive prisoners were tortured to death by the United States — see: “The Bush Administration Homicides,” at The Daily Beast, or Scott Horton’s, “The Bush Era Torture -Homicides,” at Harper’s online.Google, “autopsy reports reveal homicides of detainees in U.S. custody” to read Department of Defense death certificates which establish that some captive prisoners who died in custody were undeniably tortured to death.Look up the medical term, “rhabdomyolysis.’  It is repeated through those DOD autopsy reports which conclude that “homicide” was the manner of death of some of the prisoners who died in U.S. custody, and is typically of severe crush injuries suffered in earthquakes, car crashes, and bombings.  In other words, some of the captives held in U.S. custody, who walked into their cells, were carried out with fatal crush injuries.Read Richard Leiby’s article, “Down a Dark Road,” at the Washington Post, and see Alex Gibney’s Oscar-winning documentary, “Taxi to the Dark Side.”  Major Paul Burney, a psychiatrist with the Army’s 85th Medical Detachment’s Combat Stress Control Team at Guantanamo, testified to the Senate Arms Services Committee: “[A] large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq and we were not successful in establishing a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq. The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish that link … there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results.”That pressure came from Dick Cheney.  Arguably, Cheney wanted what other torture regimes, like the Khmer Rouge or The Spanish Inquisition, wanted.  He wanted testimony to substantiate something that was not true.  He wanted false confessions.

  • Anonymous

    I applaud this effort to keep this issue in the public eye as I  believe it has done more to erode our national character and moral standing in the world than any  other issue in modern memory. 
    I do take issue with one point made by Mr. Siems and Mr. Liman. This is not the first time that the world has heard the voices of the victims of this flawed policy. My portraits of Iraqi detainees, all tortured and released without any charges filed, were first displayed at the Moving Walls 15 Documentary Photography exhibition at the Open Society Institute in  New York in November of 2008 and currently  be seen at the Columbia University School of Social Work. They can also be viewed at

  • remi

    Many of us at UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall in 2003-2004 refused to greet John Yoo after the administration hired him as a full professor (although all his bios state he was hired in 1993, he spent most of his career in the Justice Department and was truly hired in 2003-2004).  The second and third year students were given an unofficial nod, but the first years, of which I was one (albeit a middle-aged one) found a memo from the Dean of Students in our lockers the following day demanding our attendance. 

    I never graduate from Boalt.  I was ambushes by this same Dean of Students and three professors on trumped-up “Honor” charges.  I passed all my classes but I never did welcome the man who twisted our language into a justification for torture.

    Let him know your thoughts:

  • Jwobble

    If you want you to read the best reporting on torture read jason Leopold and Jeffrey Kaye of

  • Liz

    Thank you for this program.  This is the kind of truth telling for which  we needed you back on television. Well done!

  • LadyNell

    This was an excellent program, and the comments here have revived my memory. From the day when Ford pardoned Nixon up to the present when Obama has refused to “look back”,  it’s been apparent to me that the presidents are all on the same team, protecting each other and all of those in high government offices from public scrutiny–all for one and one for all.  They have kept us American citizens from healing our collective conscience; we’re sick and harshly divided. My sister and her husband—conservative Christian Republicans–won’t read anything I send them and refuse to watch anything on PBS. 

    As I watched the interviews, I thought of Marianne Williamson’s powerful prayer of amends from European Americans to African Americans in her book, “Illuminata.” I was in a church that read that apology aloud together during a Sunday service. It brought all the guilt I’ve felt through the years to the surface.

    Even though no one in the government asked me if we should round up and torture people, I feel responsible and complicit in my silence. I’m so glad to know now there’s something we can do individually to put a human face on these horrific acts of torture, and eventually maybe we can come together in small groups and apologize. This is not the America I grew up in; this is not the government I was taught to pledge my allegiance to in school. The government will likely go on denying and justifying instead of apologizing or making anything right, but we can speak out. Thank you, Larry Siems and Doug Liman for making this possible.

  • Marilyn Alex

    I  have watched   Bill many  times  on  my  mac..without  Adobe etc. Is  this  something  new???

  • Avataress

     LadyNell, thank you for your honesty and what I believe are your heartfelt sentiments.  As you said, America, as a nation, as I guess a lot of other nations of the world, although I can only speak from experience of America, are in deep need of healing.  I believe that every country is a crowd of citizens or individuals, regardless of how individually well-developed.  I believe that it is each persons responsibility to live with as much goodwill, good faith, and benevolence as s/he can muster.  We cannot legislate morality.  Unfortunately, this has not been the case for so very many people for a very long time.  Tonight I am feeling hopeful.  I hope this continues for me and for you and for all our sakes.

  • Mike D

    It was heartening to see Mr.Siems and Mr.Liman perform their civic duty by shining an urgent light on “the dark side.”

    Sadly, this may be the tip of an iceberg that now seems, in retrospect, to have an air of inevitablity. When George W. Bush declared a War on Terror and simultaneously asked Americans to go shopping or go to Disneyworld, it was a signal, the world over, that reality would henceforth be replaced by a never-ending Reality Show.

  • Rhialto

    Perhaps you have missed my point.   Post war Germany isn’t analogous in scope but in kind: when the state commits crimes in it’s people’s name, whom should said people hold accountable, and how?

    Soul searching requires introspection not a knee jerk reaction.

  • Susan Harman

    I guess I’m not a good person, because I want revenge on the perpetrators for committing these crimes in my name. I want John Yoo—who, incredibly, teaches Consitutional law at Berkeley’s Boalt Law School—fired in disgrace. I want Jay Bybee—who, incredibly, was rewarded for his complicity by being given a lifetime appointment to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals—to be impeached. I want Bush, Cheney, Addington, Gonzalez, Rice, Rumsfeld, Tenet, et al to be sent to prison for war cimes.

  • Elizabeth Ferrari

     Thank you for freeing “these words that have been suppressed”.

  • Mary F. Richards

    Something that may not have been mentioned is the state of  precedent in common law.  As any constitutional lawyer will tell you, once an action by the federal government is allowed to pass with no legal challenge, that action is easier to repeat in the future.  If an administration can commit an illegal act but get away with it, it then becomes legal.

  • Joe Shoe.

    Yes, Ms. Harman…and Colin Powell for his pivital role in Iraq II.

  • emlynn

     Could you pls provide the title of their work.  Unable to locate it at  tks vm

  • emlynn

     Thanks.  Will do.  Never could understand how a  respected institution could welcome him as faculty.  Shameful!

  • Kenegbert3rd

     Well, said,  Ms. Harman.  I want the exact same things.  ‘Good person’ apparently doesn’t apply here.  Fine by me.

  • Kenegbert3rd

     Yeah.  UC Berkeley, huh?  Thought they were smarter than that. 

  • Kenegbert3rd

    Let’s hope history doesn’t repeat itself.  John le Carre”s minor masterpiece spy novel  A MOST WANTED MAN (2008) ends with an especially vicious portrayal of ‘extraordinary rendition’ by a CIA ‘lift squad.’  Unfortunately le Carre’s book was completely lambasted by the critics.  In the USA.  Not most other places.  Wonder why?  Because Messrs. Liman and Siems and company, bless them, had not yet yanked the 12-30-04 CIA background paper from the USDOJ Office of Legal Counsel ‘on interrogation techniques’ out of our federal government’s sneaky hands.  So that we could see that a long-retired MI6 officer knew better what our spies were doing than we Americans did!    May Bill M., Doug and Larry not get similar treatment!  By the way, go to and look at the memo.    Note also a fine reading of same on said Web site by the one and only DonDeLillo.  Far more unsettling than anything he’s ever written.
         Sad to say, getting any of the guilty, from John Yoo on down (or up), into any court to answer for what they’ve done will be a real Everest to climb.  Large parts of this country are still frightened half to death of everything that moves.   That they are not far more horrified at the prospect that the USA may yet become the next North Korea where POW rights are concerned, does not reassure.  Kudos once more to Mr. Moyers, Mr. Siems, Mr. Liman, everybody at  Reckoning With Torture,’ and (of course) Mr. le Carre.

  • Betty Donnelly

    As a Country we have no moral compass.Certain individuals yes. Until we stop glorifying War and the Military this will continue. I watched the PBS Memorial Day special last night and It made me sick, To see Colin Powell talk He is more responsible than most for our Invasion of Iraq he lied to the world in front of the UN Then blames it on the CIA. I am most disappointed in Obama for not Prosecuting these war criminals. He also should be prosecuted for war crimes and the continuation of torture by his admin.

  • Betty Donnelly

    And McCain says nothing a real hero.

  • Robert Ruiz

     “According to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, 53 percent of
    self-identified liberal Democrats and 67 percent of moderate or
    conservative Democrats support keeping Guantanamo Bay open.
    Seventy-seven percent of liberal Democrats endorse the use of drones,
    which we know kill innocent civilians. What does that say about the
    moral compass both of you have talked about?”

    what it says is that though we have two major political parties we have no real choice—both political parties are right of center. 

    it says, compassionate conservative Christians are anything but.

  • Lawrence Walton

    I think I see where you are coming from but there is no way post war Germany is analogous in kind. Germany as I am sure you know was responsible for 6 million murders. As I said no bones were broken here no limbs lost etc.  I think you are saying that the process carried out in post war Germany should be analagous to what we should do in this instance.  Again no need to invoke the post war Germany reference since in fact our country was the driving force at Nuremberg.

    Our system is working fine resolving this issue and any attempts to link what we should do to post war Germany is salacious.

  • Karl Hoff

    Hi Betty, I lived in Phoenix when John McCain got off the Plane after being released as a POW.  As I remember he was on crutches. Though I don’t agree with much of what he says and am anti- war, he has since that day been one of the most out spoken citizens against torture and that I will not take that away from him. Thank you for the reply.

  • Lawrence Walton

    “In fact there was not a lot of physical barbarity.”

    Quoting Larry Siems in video above. Did we violate our own, very high standards, yes. Did we torture these terrorists who all you whiners are defending? No damn way.

    I have received training from American POW’s from the Vietnam Era on dealing with torture and one phrase  sticks in my mind “I’ll tell you what you want just quit hitting me in the face with that shovel.” Many people have a real sense of what real torture is and although most would probably agree with you that America’s high standards regarding treatment of POWs is or was important I doubt that they would see what happened as agregious as you all present. The damage was done to the American principles not these enemies and terrorists.

  • otherwiseorange

    It seems ethically relevant that torture, psychological as well as physical, leaves long and deep traumatic scars. It is also shameful that many psychologists supported those in our government who advocated torture, or minimized its importance.

  • Dadster3

    I went to the Reckoning with Torture website to view documents.  There are only 10 to choose from.  Grim as they are, out of 130,000 documents are there only 10 worth reading?

  • Anonymous

    The statistics presented by Bill (based on the recent WaPo survey) were deeply distressing.  If those figures represent the views of people who define themselves as “liberal democrats” … it is entirely unsurprising that Bill cannot find a mainstream broadcaster for his excellent work. 

    I applaud the energy and passion of this project but if 77% of America’s “liberal democrats” are content that unarmed drones are doing the killing on their behalf in faraway lands like Yemen and Pakistan then these fine creative folk have their work cut out. 

    America’s internal “truth and reconciliation” may be a heartfelt dream for Bill. But if, as he suggests, the nation is still not prepared for the hard truths that its people may have to tell one another, how long before America will be willing to hear what the rest of the world wants to say to her? 

  • Alan Bickley

    The Moyers team and his guests deserve our thanks for opening this moral swamp to the public gaze and, as one guest recalled from the wisdom of Louis Brandeis, to the disinfectant powers of sunshine. My quibble is this: it diminishes the cases against torture as an offense against morality and decency to add that “it doesn’t work.” Torture would be immoral if it worked, if it worked indifferently, or if it were as ineffectual as a means of saving a CIA agent from boredom.

  • Jack FIds

    So in your mind it is fine for America to lower itself to the standards of the enemy to achieve a final result.. we become that which we despise in order to rise above them ?
    Sick puppies….

  • Alan Bickley

    From a strictly operational standpoint, neither torture nor the establishment of rapport is of any use in extracting information about plans, possibly even organizational structure, from a prisoner who is past his first month of captivity. Organizations adapt to the loss of people who possess these kinds of information. To torture while the years roll away into decades is the essence of Kafkan.

  • Philcase

     You read 130,00 documents and there are only 10 worth reading?????/ You must be an expert WITH TO MUCH TIME ON YOU HAND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Rhialto

    We’re getting there. Again: not analogous in scope i.e number of deaths, but in analogous in kind i.e torture is a war crime committed by state actors. As I said previously, I think Mr. Siem was asking Americans as citizens to think about what that means.

    And please, tell me how the system is “working fine resolving this issue.”

  • Philcase

    What training did you receive from American POW’S from the Vietnam Era. Did you discuss it with John McCain? Per the UN and Geneva Convention it is clearly TORTURE!!!!! I suspect that you HAVE NEVER BEEN IN COMBAT!!!!!!!!  

  • Benny Franklin

    You still haven’t gotten the whole
    liberty-security thing from me yet, have you? The foreign water
    boardees of today, who we think give us a little, temporary,
    insignificant security, will be the domestic water boardees of
    tomorrow who lose their liberty. I can see it now, it’ll be
    franchised, maybe “24 Hour Fist-Punched” or “Wal-smacked” or
    maybe “Chase…while slapping in the face”. Corporations Keeping
    America Safe In America! And, for our poor future American soldiers,
    between dunks they’ll hear the written words of John Yoo read to
    them. Good night people, I’m going back to bed.

  • Lawrence Walton

    You might suspect wrong, but I do not argue with the Senator McCain. The moral high ground that the US enjoyed prior to these actions was probably what kept most Vietnam Era POWs alive. I imagine that looking a torturer in the eye while he wrapped your arm around your neck knowing that our country did not do that would give one great strength.  I can only imagine though, ask the Senator.  But what you whiners are complainig about here is far far from the bone crushing eye gouging torture that most combatants have come to expect from anyone else besides the United States.  And then when Mr. Siems tersely suggests that our nation should look to post war Germany for what to do, give me a break. You remember 6 million murdered by the Germans not the same do you not agree?

  • Raybradley

    What has happened to the core of american society which brings it to this point? Is it a new disease brought on by hard times or is it the fruit of many years of unwillingness to look at itself and really see and acknowledge the dark side that comes from a too good thing. Being the most powerful, richest and arrogant country in the whole world is a terrible burden to carry. Being able to assume the entire responsibility of same may be just too much for the conscience of most citizens.

  • Raybradley

    Just feel as you do. Hope I’ll live long enough to see the perpetrators convicted.

  • Avataress

     Thanks for pointing this out, Mr. Bickley.  I’ve noticed that people always mention that “torture doesn’t work,” which as a moral question/argument is irrelevant.  But then, most people, I would presume anywhere in the world, don’t have a discerning moral compass/imagination, but live mostly according to expedience, which even some philosophers, like Hume, advise, which I wrote about in my Pulitzer Prize contender (2009) book entitled, Nowheresville, Everywhere, Earth, which I’m beginning to think is where we’re all going to find ourselves very soon, if not all ready!

  • Avataress

    I have been very thankful for this colloquy this week.  It has let me know that there are some thoughtful people who still know right from wrong in this country, which provides me great moral support.  However, it is very difficult to find these kinds of people to relate to regularly.  Perhaps Moyers & Company and/or Disqus would like to make a way for such people to communicate with each other when the shows or issues that brought them together in the first place are no longer spotlighted, i.e., by allowing people to place their websites or e-mails in their profiles.

  • Kenegbert3rd

     The moderator of this fine Web site will, I hope, pardon me ‘talking to myself in public’ here, but I did want to clarify that I am not putting down Mr. DeLillo’s  writing.  Just wanted to underline that what’s real is always scarier than what’s made up.  Even if it’s as convincing as MAO II, FALLING MAN or POINT OMEGA.

  • Avataress

    I’ve posted comments about two shows here, so I’m somewhat new.  However, I’m having a crisis in what I do with my time.  In other words, most people who post here must work for a living or run businesses.  This may be off topic, but I am so impressed with what the people here are saying, that I wanted to ask you for your suggestions on what you think I can do for a living (or what you do for a living) in which I can best apply my time and moral sensitivity/imagination, as well as strength of will to live in accord with same when detractors come along, to contribute to this however broken society.  Is there any such work?  I haven’t found it to date.

    There are some criteria I have in mind, like that I have to be able to start with limited financial resources, do this out of my home (preferably mostly over the phone), and make my own hours.  I live in New York City.  I have a lot that I can bring to such an endeavor, like initiative, innovation, open-mindedness, a very well-developed ability to think independently and disinterestedly, humor. 

    I don’t have any advanced degrees,, nor do I want any, I’m not that good with schmoozing with people in general, although if people are honest and sincere, I can get along with them quite well (as we’ve all ready made plain here, there are not a lot of those!), I become relatively outraged when people aren’t making an honest effort (which is subsumed in the previous character trait, except for the temper part). 

    I have a lot of inchoate thoughts swirling around about what I’d like to do, but nothing definite, as well as having no trustworthy colleagues to work with.  My present website is:  You might find my blog there interesting.  My e-mail is there.  This will tell you some of the things I’ve been working on and have some expertise at.  I admit one or two of them may be frivolous, but harmless on the whole.  Anyone who has any suggestions, please e-mail me with the word “SUGGESTIONS” in all caps in the subject line.  Thanks for being here folks, and keep the light of your conscience burning!  We all need it!

  • BG

    To judge an action, look to its fruits.  Once those fruits are made public, progress for human dignity advances.  Those responsible for shameful activity are themselves shamed.  But it always begins at the bottom, never the top.

  • Lyndamottandrews

     I agree with your viewers. I have been waiting for this issue as as issue for a  public forum discussion. It was an excellent program. I wish more people would watc  and listen esp… . It is has been hidden for too long , and must be brought to the forefront.

  • Matt Sarconi

    Do what you enjoy, as often as possible. If you can do this to make a living -as an artist, trash collector, activist, or whatever- you will have made a positive mark. One’s moral sensitivity needn’t bring in the paycheck. Your personal happiness should be your goal, and then your social awareness and moral compass will follow in your wake.

  • Avataress

     Hi, Matt, Thanks for your suggestion.  I DO do what I enjoy as often as possible.  However, it just seems that I’m enjoying less and less and feeling overburdened and nihilistic.  I thought after making my request that I’m going to have to figure out what to do on my own, as I believe I should, although asking for advice when confused or in doubt to consider is not a bad idea. 

    What I usually do when I get stuck like this is keep my “antenna up” (opportunity radar; intuition) and just wait expectantly and the next thing for me to do comes along.  Something new has come to me all ready.  I asked the question, what should I do next? then unexpectedly opened a catalogue that I had poured over in detail many times and saw something (a book) I hadn’t noticed before that seems to give a take I’d heard of with interest before from someone else I trust.  That’s usually how it works for me.  There just seemed so many genuinely decent people here that I thought I would seek your input.  Thanks again, Mattt!

  • Private Private

    You might not want a degree, but the education of ones self should never be over looked. Even if you do not go to a school you should empower yourself by knowing history and the current law. This will give you tools to “contribute.” Knowledge is power, and right now no knowledge is more powerful then legal and historical knowledge. So either know it yourself or have enough money you can high someone else who does. Other topics would be social sciences and enviromental sciences. This would allow you to identify problems in communites, worldwide, with water and food resources and housing resources.

    Honestly the best thing, if you want to have an impact, is to stop sitting and waiting, and start actively pursuing.

    The thing I learned, the hard way of course, is that you cannot do it all. You have to find  a small problem in the world and make it your lifes mission to advance and progress the situation.

    Hope this helps.

  • Private Private

    All I can help but think as I sit and ponder this weeks episode is how history and societies of the future will judge our country for these actions and activities we conducted.

    It’s sad to see how something so wrong suddenly became a topic to be debated; how torture, regardless of degree, suddenly became debatable.

    The world of right and wrong, the sense of righteousness, got turned upside down.

    Indeed what kind of world are we condoning? What kind of world, full of cruelty when the moment “justifies it”, are we leaving to our children?

    What is the point of preventing others from doing wrong when we do wrong in order to make right? The ends of this will never justify the means.

    Anyone who knowingly gave orders to begin this program, including those in the presidential admin and justice dept should be immediately investigate, tried, and punished. Otherwise the torture stands and we live in a world where the goverment can indefinately detain anyone, including US citizens, and torture them; waterboard them. I would not want my, or anyone elses son or daughter, waterboarded; I am not sure about the rest of you.

  • David F., N.A.

    Besides the Bush, Blair and Obama admins, when was the last time an American or European government had used torture on prisoners and innocent civilians? 

    Quite the eye opener, huh?

  • George M. Henke

    I am so thankful that Doug Liman and Larry Siems did the investigative journalism which resulted in the book and Bill Moyers’ show.
    We cannot let this dishonor to our democracy be swept aside.
    The crass and corrupt thinking behind the torture and its legal “justification” is one of the most shameful episodes in modern American history.
    The legal indictments of those responsible for encouraging tourture may never happen, but the truth about the manipulation of the law under direct supervision by the President and Vice President should make us all view the Bush Administration with new levels of contempt.
    Bush and Cheney should apologize to those they tourtured and to the American people for dishonoring our democracy and for failure to live up to their oaths and Geneva Convention treaty. 

  • Avataress

     Hi, “Private, Private,”  Thanks for your reply and advice.  I’ve all ready taken your advice on educating myself in the fields you discuss and many more.  I’ve been doing so assiduously for the past 30 years, which is why many of the powers that be seem to find me dangerous to their agendas!  However, it seems you didn’t see my reply to Matt who also so graciously gave me some advice here.  In my experience, which I also understand is an archetypal feminine experience, whether it be that of a woman or a man’s feminine side, when I’m confused or stuck or at a standstill and don’t know which way to turn, it is best for me to be receptively still, and something always comes to break the deadlock, at least it has always!  The limits of what we can do has impressed itself poignantly upon me of late, as well.  However, the outer limits of what is possible, has also impressed itself upon me too, for I have lived those too in being an unreasonable person in that I don’t adapt myself to the world, but when I am sure of the value of what I bring, even if it is not conventional, I expect the world to adapt itself to me!  I don’t know if you remember it or are familiar with it, but I feel your sentiments echoed in the “Serenity Prayer:”  May I have the serenity to change the things I can, accept the things I can’t and the wisdom to know the difference!”  Blessed be!

  • Karl Hoff

    Hi BG, The point that you make that,” it always begins at the bottom, never the top”, is so true, and at the same time one of the biggest block to getting anthing done. The difficulty in being heard without first being famous in some way, such as wealth, a star, a great athlete, politically connected and the list goes on, keeps the bottom remaining perpetually at the bottom in most cases. Maybe some day one will not have to win an Oscar to be heard, which has been part of the problem with getting things changing for the better. Through out my life, it has gotten far worse because any changes come at the burden of so much “Red Tape”, which makes one ask, “What has changed”. If it takes becoming famous is some way to get an interview, I would hope that some day only having a proven good way to solve a problem would put you first in line, rather than the back of the line.

  • doggirl

    It is disappointing that the guests did not discuss the continued torture policies of the Obama administration that have been documented in Bagram Afganistan and that serve as an oversees “Gitmo” as outlined in this article:

    And Obama is now targeting American citizens and killing them with no due process because he has decided that killing citizens in the GWOT is something he has a right to do. In addition, Obama is killing innocent children in drone attacks because again he thinks he has the right to do this. All of these acts are immoral and brutal and ought to be on the front page of every newspaper in this country. Obama’s terrorism policies are no better than Bush’s in fact are even worse because of his killings of innocent people. They are both war crimminals in my eyes. And liberals who defend his policies are a major part of the problem in our country today 

  • Matt Sarconi

    Yes, besides being very disappointed with Obama on many fronts (naming Biden as running mate was first sign, but naming Geithner and Summers as Treasury head and finance czar spoke volumes about “change”), I am saddened and worried most by the demise of our media. Clearly, our 4th estate must be an independent entity, unswayed by the institutions and actions that they are suppose to account for. Instead what we’ve seen is a steady erosion of the media as watchdog, while the misdeeds of warmongers, banksters, and issues of corruption escalate. It’s a simple concept: when you control the messenger, you control the message. 

  • Lawrence Walton

    Do not try to pin this on the Obama administration you ignorant political hack.

  • B Atlantic

    Ummm….the answer to that would be the Clinton-Gore Administration.   If you check into the history of where these policies originated, they have their beginning in the mid-to late 1990’s.

  • David F., N.A.

     Hey, man, you just messed up the point I was trying to make. Okay, let’s try this again.  Besides the [ahem] Clinton, Bush, Blair and Obama admins, when was the last time…

  • The Life Breath Coach

     Syria over the weekend.

  • Thelifebreathcoach

     Amen!  Thanks you for stating that so beautifully!

  • Thelifebreathcoach

     Aloha Lynda,
    I totally agree.  Would you be willing to read a statement from a detainee like we were asked to do?  I blog at and I plan to post all videos sent to me on my blog permanently.  Interested?
    Many blessings,
    The Life Breath Coach

  • Thelifebreathcoach

     Aloha Karl,
    If you’d like to comment on this subject or another, or if you’d like to read a statement from a detainee, I’d be happy to post it on my blog and I’ve been getting good at driving targeted traffic.  People read blogs, let’s give them something to read!
    Many blessing,

  • Thelifebreathcoach

     Monetize a blog and serve from that platform with all your heart.

  • Thelifebreathcoach

     Did you miss something?  Most of these people were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    Even if they were “enemies” … you say damage was not done?  What kind of self important crap is that?

    No kidding American Principles have been damaged!  Horrible murderous crime was committed on our behalf!  Your arrogance is SO painful!

  • Thelifebreathcoach

    I am sitting next to a Vietnam Vet at the moment who is spitting fire from your…remarks!

    He said, “who the hell do you think you are to justify torture for ANY reason?”

  • Avataress

     Hi, Carrie, aka Life Breath Coach,

    Thanks for your suggestion!  Since I made my post that you responded to, I’ve just had an explosion of ideas of what to do and have all ready done a lot of things, like write (twice) to Cory Booker, the incredible mayor of Newark, NJ, who even recently ran into a burning building to save his neighbor, almost dying in the process himself (!), Frank Serpico, and others, as well as revitalizing an idea I got some months ago to use my financial resourcefulness in hard times to help others.  I have been almost totally revitalized since then and brought back into life!  As I wrote in another post here about this issue, I asked of an oracle, “What should I do now?” and I got a totally incomprehensible answer from Plato!  However, if I wait long enough when I get stuck like this, the answer or answers usually come to me in time.  I still have to trust that more implicitly, though; it has never failed me!

    I will look at your website.  Another concept I came across, which I wrote about finding here is DNA healing.  I ordered the book, The DNA of Healing, by Margaret Ruby (You can see her website by googling her name).  Some of the concepts she espouses I’ve heard of before from a source I trust, namely Malachai York, who’s been imprisoned since 2001 on charges I’m not sure I believe.  You can also google his name to find out more.  They razeed the wonderful city he build in Georgia, which I wish I’d had a chance to visit, my friends spoke of their visit there so wonderously!


  • Anonymous

    Let’s see:  We send drones after known terrorist, they send jet full of innocent Americans into Twin Towers full of innocent Americans.
    We waterboard captured terrorist, they lop off heads for public media.
    The Geneva Convention ruled that we must treat captured soldiers in a certian way, these are not soldiers, but international criminals and terrorists.
    I hate it that we have soldiers on foreign soil.  I also hate it that terrorist can walk across our boarders and harm Americans. 
    Please, Lord, let us do away with war and violence in this world.  Give women and children freedom, education, and adequate nutrition.  And forgive us for doing what we must do to protect our own people.  If there is a better way, grant us wisdom.

  • Avataress


  • Terry

    Thank you!
    Truth and Reconciliation is not just other countries – it should be for us…Time to heal and stop the fighting.

  • Johnny

    Would the intentional killing of a American, or a foreign fighter, by dropping a missle on them, without any miranda rights being given, or without due process (no trial, no evidence, no witnesses, no physical evidence, etc.) constitute a violation of American, and/or International Law?  Well thats what Obama is doing NOW, as we speak, yet NO cry from the so called unbiased media. Imagine that!

  • Tace

    Ahhh…but Obama is NOT waterboarding!!!  THAT would warrant a call for prosecution……AND…..give Larry Siems his next book and  interview on Moyers  & Company.

  • James

    The military rational is, these people may be plotting another 911 and it is worst doing nothing.

  • James

    The charge is murder one with special circumstances.  Killing using the most heinous and sadistic weapons and torture.

  • Crossriedl

    While listening to the Memorial Day podcast on torture, I was struck by the similarities of techniques used in interrogation and the bullying that has become so common in schools. Is the rampant bullying that happens among our teenagers, which is intended to humiliate and strip the dignity from victims, accepted – even supported – by adults who accepted torture? Did we teach our children to behave this way during the years of the Iraq war? Or are bullying and torture both a response to the fear promoted during the early 2000’s in response to 9/11? There must be some relationship between two such similar behaviors, one among adults and the other among our children. Prisoners being tortured don’t have the option of suicide, but children being tortured by bullying peers do. Unfortunately, they are increasingly take this one way out, a loss to all of us and our humanity. How can we stand idly by? Perhaps for the same reason that we all turned a blind eye to extraordinary rendition or the John Yoo memo. 

  • Johnny

    Those who criticize so called “torture” should consider the following scenario: Let’s pretend that your child, lets say a 10 year old daughter named Sasha, was kidnapped by terrorists and was being held for ramson in a dungeon. Lets say the terrorists promise to cut her throat (and film it) within 24 hours unless they are given 10 million dollars in cash of US currency. Let’s further agree that the location of Sasha and her abducters cannot be determined by the authorities. As the 24 hour deadline approaches the FBI say’s they have captured a terrorist who has knowledge of where Jenny is being held. But the terrorist, named Amir, refuses to talk. You only have 2 hours left till the deadline and Amir refuses to talk. Here is the critical question:  Would President Obama allow the FBI to water board Amir to get the information on where Sasha is being held? I say the answer is YES, and rightly so. So, if Obama would water board to save Sasha, why shouldnt the CIA water board to save American lives, maybe yours or mine, or our families?

    This is really what this argument really boils down to. Take the scenario and appply it to your daughter.  Get it now?  Good.

  • Johnny

    Those who criticize so called “torture” should consider the following scenario: Let’s pretend that your child, lets say a 10 year old daughter named Sasha, was kidnapped by terrorists and was being held for ramson in a dungeon. Lets say the terrorists promise to cut her throat (and film it) within 24 hours unless they are given 10 million dollars in cash of US currency. Let’s further agree that the location of Sasha and her abducters cannot be determined by the authorities. As the 24 hour deadline approaches the FBI say’s they have captured a terrorist who has knowledge of where Jenny is being held. But the terrorist, named Amir, refuses to talk. You only have 2 hours left till the deadline and Amir refuses to talk. Here is the critical question:  Would President Obama allow the FBI to water board Amir to get the information on where Sasha is being held? I say the answer is YES, and rightly so. So, if Obama would water board to save Sasha, why shouldnt the CIA water board to save American lives, maybe yours or mine, or our families?This is really what this argument really boils down to. Take the scenario and appply it to your daughter.  Get it now?  Good.

  • Crossriedl

    What people who make such comments don’t seem to understand is that you wouldn’t GET accurate information from Amir by waterboarding him. It doesn’t matter who the kidnap victim is – making it more personal doesn’t change the fact that torture doesn’t work! It just makes things worse all around. No one wants bad things to happen to a loved one, so let’s build on not letting bad things happen. 

  • Avataress

     Corssriedl, Here is a story I posted in another comment section of this show; remember, I am 54 years old so this happened almost 50 years ago:

     Here is a story about problems/difficulties and solving them, the moral
    of which, I’ll tell you at the end, which moral I learned from studying
    myself and the psychological theories of Carl Jung and Sheldon Kopp,
    mainly:  When I was around 7 and 8 years old, all the kids in my class
    would gang up on me and beat me up because I was the smartest kid in the
    class and they envied me.  I began praying every day in the bathroom
    before I left school, while urinating, that God would stop my attackers
    from attacking me.  They continued to do so for at least two years, and I
    continued to pray to God for them to stop.  Finally, they did. 
    However, I also stopped going to the bathroom after school each day to
    urinate and pray and as a result would wet myself almost every day
    before I would reach home.  The moral of this story is that if we pray
    long enough or concentrate our energy within ourselves, whether or not
    there is a God who answers our prayers, that the things we pray for will
    usually come to pass.  On the other hand, for every good, there is a
    corresponding evil and every problem we solve breeds another, probably
    different problem.  And as Sheldon Kopp said, to paraphrase, solving
    problems breeds more problems, but we still need to continuously work
    toward solution somehow.  Maybe it’s our nature, maybe there’s some
    evolutionary or spiritual reason.  The latter, notwithstanding, the
    former are facts, if we could be see them.  Finally, for many years I
    thought of these incidents in my childhood without clarity of vision and
    assumed that I shouldn’t prayer because it didn’t work for me then
    (although it did or seemed to, anyway; it just took more time than I
    would have liked) and therefore, that prayer doesn’t work.  Prayer does
    work, but it’s for children and those who are at their last ditch and
    can’t think of any other way out.  Then it can definitely help marshall
    or gather or intensify one’s inner psychological resources and
    apparently magically also make things happen in one’s outer environment,
    God notwithstanding, as Octavia Butler also revealed in her Science Fiction masterpiece, The Parable of the Sower.

    So, bullying is not a phenomenon that began in the last two decades!  It’s as old as humanity, civilization, notwithstanding.

  • Tace

    LOL…. Yeah right!  Unless you were born on a different planet…the “bullying” you’re attempting to twist into some sort of novel cause and effect of the early 2000’s is laughable. 

  • Johnny

    Former CIA directors Goss and Heydon disagree and both say vital, life saving information was garnered from water boarding certain detainees, that’s more then good enough for me.

  • Johnny

    doggirl:  agreed, and this PROVES once and for all that the media is in the tank for Obama, they are 100% on his re-election team, and they will lie, cheat and murder (if they have to) to get him re-elected. 100% proof!  No need to argue, its just right there for all to see.

  • Johnny

    Are you equally enraged about American missles killing American citizens, foreign fighters,  and children without any miranda rights, without a trial, without a chance to defend themselves in court? Is KILLING worse then torture? If it is then Obama should be tried and executed. If you disagree with this you are noting but a political hack, and your opinions should be ignored.

  • doggirl

    It kind of makes sense to me why the Media is in bed with Obama because he protects the status quo and the Media is owned by corporations, but I do not get why  so-called “liberals” —many of whom I know personally, buy into his propaganda and defend him. They believe they have to support him or Romney will be POTUS and so that actually means they have to support the “lesser of two evils” although few ever admit he is doing anything evil at all. There is a lot of cognitive dissonance with the liberal crowd. 

  • doggirl

    Have you ever considered that any CIA official who defends torture is simply covering their butts or the butts of those who worked for them?  There are many other  gov officials who have denounced torture as a useless and brutal mechanism in the GWOT.  

  • Johnny

    So if your child was being held by a terrorist who said he would cut her throat , and we had captured a person who knew where she was being held you would insist we NOT water board him because of your superior humanitarian sensitives?
    Yes, or No?
    (don’t give me any bs, just yes or no, because yes or no is the question our people must deal with)

  • doggirl

    How do you know this “terrorist” knows anything about the child? Based on what kind of evidence ?And how do I know that torturing this person is going to get my child back? 

  • Mmdeeb

    Mr. Moyer,
     This is an incredible report as usual again, as you have delivered always.   One issue keeps me surprised, that you still attribute the  9/11 to the el Quaida,or some of those unfamiliar Muslim fighters, in such situation, with all those facts on the grounds that negate their participation. Did you try to look into it?  Follow the $$$.

  • bea

    @Johnny The comments you make are ridiculous and I suggest, instead of outlining idiotic Hollywood inspired scenario, to actually make proper research on the matter before you open your mouth. You should watch films like Torturing democracy, CIA rendition flights, Outlawed (well there are few others) and also read at least “The Guantanamo Files. The stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prisons” by Andy Worthington. When we discover Guantanamo prisoners, we discover mostly innocent people that include children and wounded, bought by the US for $5000 (isn’t it involvement in trading of human beings?), but even those allegedly (!) ‘the worst ones’, when we consider the barbaric treatment they have been through, we should ask ourselves WHAT have we become? How much lower can we fall? Torture never works as a method of obtaining information of any value. It is much better to use your brain and treat your enemy well, make him happy to the point that he trusts you and then you may actually find out something that has any quality. Torture always has been used in monstrous attempts to degrade human values. As using torture is nothing else than going back to the middle ages! Btw, I am not saying kidnaps do not happen as, unfortunately, they do… In fact CIA actually kidnapped many innocent people (look up El-Masiri for instance, who was kidnapped during his holiday with a family, taken to few secret prisons, where he was brutally tortured and then – as they realized that they have made a mistake – he was left in Albania’s forest without apology or explanation).