This episode aired on 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.
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.'"
Bill Moyers hosts a weekly hour of compelling conversation about the state of American democracy, featuring a range of scholars, activists, scientists, and newsmakers.