Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Public TV Broadcast on "coercive interrogation"

Looking for a documentary to illustrate some of the constitutional issues surrounding "coercive interrogation"???  Here's one, to air on SOME public television stations, "Torturing Democracy."

It will air 9 pm Thursday October 16th on WNET Ch. 13 NYC, and repeated 1:30 am Saturday October 18th – WNET Ch. 13 NYC.  However, there is some controversy about public broadcasting stations not showing it, as discussed here and on many other places in the blogosphere.

But you can view the documentary on demand at

For more information, click on the NYC broadcast click here:

A few excerpts from the THIRTEEN/WNET website:

Award-winning producer Sherry Jones presents a comprehensive documentary – more than 18 months in the making – that examines America’s detention and interrogation practices in the “war on terror” in Torturing Democracy.

The film examines how coercive interrogation methods were used by the CIA and migrated to the United States military at Guantanamo Bay and other locations as well as the charges that these interrogations became “at a minimum, cruel and inhuman treatment and, at worst, torture,” in the words of the former General Counsel of the United States Navy, Alberto Mora. It carefully presents the evidence that the Bush administration promoted these methods and developed legal justification for the practice. The film features in-depth interviews with senior military and government officials who fought the policy and former Guantanamo detainees who experienced it, uncovers the origins of the tactics the White House calls “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

Senior Bush administration insiders describe the internal debate over whether the U.S. government should opt out of the Geneva Conventions in order to avoid future prosecution for war crimes. Among the film’s notable senior military and diplomatic officials is Richard Armitage, former United States Deputy Secretary of State, who describes – for the first time on camera – being waterboarded during his military training. “There is no question in my mind,” says Armitage, “that this is torture. I’m ashamed that we’re even having this discussion.”

The 90-minute documentary will be followed by a half-hour panel discussion moderated by Wide Angle anchor Aaron Brown that updates and expands the documentary with an in-depth conversation on recent Congressional hearings and legal decisions, as well as what the methods used to combat terrorism may mean for America’s standing in the world and how U.S. military personnel may be affected. The participants will be Alan Dershowitz, Harvard law professor, constitutional scholar and author of Is There a Right To Remain Silent? Coercive Interrogation and the Fifth Amendment After 9/11; Carol Rosenberg, staff reporter for the Miami Herald covering the hearings at the Guatanamo Bay detention camp; and Philippe Sands, professor of law and Director of the Centre on International Courts and Tribunals at University College London and author of Torture Team: Rumsfeld's Memo and the Betrayal of American Values.

Bill Moyers has called Torturing Democracy “profoundly journalistic and profoundly affecting. This one will go into the record books for historians and teachers and others who look back to ask, ‘What did we do?’”

The documentary details how the secret U.S. military interrogation program – “Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape” – or SERE – became the basis for many of the harshest methods used in interrogating prisoners in U.S custody. The simulated captivity is supposed to expose students to “a totalitarian evil nation with a complete disregard for human rights and the Geneva Convention,” says SERE trainer Malcolm Nance in the film. Methods used include slapping, hooding, sleep disruption, stripping, exposure to temperature extremes, sexual humiliation, and the practice now known as “waterboarding.” Nance adds, “We have recreated our enemies’ methods in Guantanamo… It will hurt us for decades to come.”

Other government and military interviewees include Major General Thomas Romig, Judge Advocate General for the U.S. Army, who reveals the inside story of a Pentagon task force set up by the Secretary of Defense in early 2003; retired Navy General Counsel Alberto Mora; veteran Air Force interrogator Colonel Steven Kleinman; military prosecutor Colonel Stuart Couch; former Pentagon lawyer Richard Shiffrin; and Martin Lederman, senior advisor in the Justice Department.

Former detainees interviewed include Moazzam Begg (Detainee #558), Shafiq Rasul (Detainee #086), and Bisher Al-Rawi (Detainee #906).

RR (with thanks to Franklin Siegel).

Executive Authority, Executive Privilege, Foreign Affairs | Permalink

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