Award-winning Documentary: Torturing Democracy

May 29, 2009, Updated December 10, 2014

Following the release on Tuesday of the long-awaited report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation programs under President George W. Bush, many are left wondering how the agency came to embrace such brutal techniques for torturing terrorism suspects that seem so far from traditional American ideals.

The Senate Committee’s investigation details myriad problems at the CIA and, according to The New York Times, “paints a devastating picture of an agency that was ill-equipped to take on the task of questioning al Qaeda suspects.” Time after time, CIA officials misled the White House and Congress about the information gathered through their grisly interrogations and failed to provide basic oversight for the secret prisons the agency set up around the world.

The 2009 documentary Torturing Democracy tells the story of how the United States government circumvented tradition and came to adopt torture as official policy. The film, produced by award-winning filmmaker Sherry Jones, draws on interviews, archival footage and declassified documents to piece together the development and dissemination of torture tactics from Bagram in Afghanistan to Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.

While there has been debate over the release of Senate Intelligence Committee report, former Guantanamo Bay inmate Moazzam Begg seems to foreshadow the importance of its release in the documentary, “If the Americans are doing it, and they’re not accountable, then who’s going to come to your rescue?”

Torturing Democracy won the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award in the domestic television category in 2009. The award committee called the documentary, “the definitive broadcast account of a deeply troubling chapter in recent American history.”

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