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Reckoning with Torture: Memos and Testimonies from the “War on Terror”

Before the September 11 attacks, the United States condemned torture, protested secret tribunals, decried disappearances, and challenged secret and arbitrary detentions. This event presents evidence that details the sadistic treatment of detainees in the Bush administration’s “War on Terror.”

Writers and artists take the stage with lawyers, a former military interrogator, and a former CIA agent to read from texts that have brought these abuses to light. Interspersed between readings, never-before-seen video interviews with former Guantánamo detainees put a human face on the torture program. Artist Jenny Holzer’s imagery incorporating U.S. government documetns provides a backdrop to the readings.

Collectively, these documents and testimonials make undeniably clear that prisoners were tortured, abused, and in some cases even killed in U.S. custody, and that those at the very highest levels of our government authorized, encouraged, or tolerated the mistreatment. The Obama administration has taken important steps toward ending the abuses, but the world is watching to see what comes next.

We can’t sweep the abuses of the last eight years under the rug. Accountability for torture is a legal, political, and moral imperative. To restore the rule of law, we must condemn these violations of our Constitution, domestic and international law, and seek to hold accountable those who authorized the abuse and torture of prisoners in America’s name.

The United States has some reckoning to do, and we invite you to start with the evidence.   PHOTO GALLERY
• View the photo gallery on Flickr
  Entire event (1:17:27)   Opening remarks by K. Anthony Appiah (4:39)   Opening remarks by Jameel Jaffer (2:42)   Nell Freudenberger reads from an interpreter’s statement (1:59)   Don DeLillo reads from a CIA memo (5:19)   Video testimony of former Guantánamo detainees Ruhal Ahmed and Shafiq Rasul (3:13)   David Cole and Art Spiegelman read from a legal memo and first-hand account of an interrogation (12:35)   Eve Ensler reads from a speech by George W. Bush (2:54)   George Saunders reads from a statement by Khaled El-Masri (4:35)   Video testimony of former Guantánamo detainee Omar Daghayes (2:17)   Jonathan Ames reads from FBI e-mails (7:00)   A.M. Homes and Jack Rice read from an interrogation log (6:33)   Amrit Singh and Matthew Alexander read from a transcript of George Tenet’s appearance on 60 Minutes (2:12)   Paul Auster reads from autopsy reports (4:46)   Video testimony of former Guantánamo detainee Mozzam Begg (2:32)   Amrit Singh, Matthew Alexander, and Susanna Moore read from a Combatant Status Review Tribunal transcript (7:25)   Ishmael Beah reads from the sworn statement of Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld (5:10)   Closing remarks by K. Anthony Appiah (0:57)   Closing remarks by Jameel Jaffer (0:36)

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