Preview: Reckoning with Torture

May 21, 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.

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.’”

Learn more about the production team behind Moyers & Company. Watch the full show.

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  • 911truther

    What do you mean we do these things and we are sorry? We are doing these things and much worse and “we are not sorry. “We” Blew up the world trade center on 911 amd murdered
    3000 innocent people. We” put the bomb in inthe Underwear Bomber’s underpants. “We” now claim the right to look right up your poop chute any time “we’ want because you might be
    a terrorist with a bomb shoved up in there by that new genius mad bomber “we” just made up.

  • Peter Maranci

    A small point in reference to your upcoming episode on acts of torture committed by US personnel.

    By refusing to investigate or prosecute acts of torture (much less actively covering such acts up, as they have done), the Obama Administration stands in violation of the UN Convention Against Torture. I urge you to read the Convention; it is quite clear.

    The Supremacy Clause of the Constitution requires the government to treat all ratified treaties as “the Supreme Law of the Land”. The Convention Against Torture was ratified in 1994, incidentally.

    By refusing to investigate or prosecute those credible allegations of torture (which acts were actually boasted of by both Bush and Cheney in their memoirs), President Obama stands in deliberate violation of the Supremacy Clause and therefore his oath of office.

    Yet not one Representative from either political party has moved to impeach the President.

    I have pointed this out elsewhere. No one has yet pointed out a flaw in the chain of logic above – at most, I am accused of being “unrealistic”. Even well-known civil libertarians simply ignore the point. I have always respected Mr. Moyers. I do not hope for a reply, but perhaps the points sketched out above are worth considering?

    Thank you.

  • http://www.davidraypoet.com/ Djray

    Who’s monitoring these messages & disappearing them as soon as it’s clear an unpopular opinion is being expressed?
    How inconsiderate to have one deleted instantly. Nobody likes to write on water.

  • Charell

    I don’t recognize my country anymore

  • J2729

    Thank you so very much for your thoughtful and always compelling interviews/discussions.

  • nan

    This is a weekend that is celebrated …memorializes and idealizes our history of war …we need to reassess our place in the human experience, our actions, our beliefs …we cannot possibly ask a God to Bless an America with actions such those exhibited  .   Where is the peace?

  • Anonymous

     Nor do I.  We plan to spend 800 billion on “defense” while cutting or trying to cut programs for PEOPLE-medicare, medicaid, social security, food stamps, student grants, student aid, school funding…and all while saying “we can’t afford it”.  How much could we afford if we just said NO to bombs….