Bill Moyers: “Everyone Should See ‘Torturing Democracy'”

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by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

In all the recent debate over torture, many of our Beltway pundits and politicians have twisted themselves into verbal contortions to avoid using the word at all.

During his speech to the conservative American Enterprise Institute last week – immediately on the heels of President Obama’s address at the National Archives – former Vice President Dick Cheney used the euphemism “enhanced interrogation” a full dozen times.

Smothering the reality of torture in euphemism, of course, has a political value, enabling its defenders to diminish the horror and possible illegality. It also gives partisans the opening they need to divert our attention by turning the future of the prison at Guantanamo Bay into a “wedge issue,” as noted on the front page of Sunday’s New York Times.


If we want to know what torture is, and what it does to human beings, we have to look at it squarely, without flinching. That’s just what a powerful and important film, seen by far too few Americans, does.


As the editors of The Christian Century magazine wrote this week, “Convening a truth commission on torture would be embarrassing to the US in the short term, but in the long run it would demonstrate the strength of American democracy and confirm the nation’s adherence to the rule of law…. Understandably, [the president] wants to turn the page on torture. But Americans should not turn the page until they know what is written on it.

Read the whole thing here…

Torturing Democracy originally aired on PBS January 21st, 2009

You can watch “Torturing Democracy” here in three segments, or watch the full  one hour program below.


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    • Edger on May 31, 2009 at 03:16

    Americans should not turn the page until they know what is written on it

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  1. showcasing the documentary in his time slot to gain a stronger viewing audience.

    I watched it both times.

    The best interview was with Malcolm Nance: Chief of Training – US Navy SERE

    Someone needs to go to jail. That’s all there is to it. This is disgusting. Thousands of service members, thousands, went through that process and were tortured around the world. People died to — so that we could have those techniques brought out and shown our service member how to resist it. It’s disgusting. How could they dare take this? How could they so — how could they dishonor us like that? Every ex-captive in this nation should be standing up against this. They literally went and took the techniques of the North Vietnamese and said we could use it to break them? I didn’t know that, by the way. I’m pretty pissed.

    • Viet71 on May 31, 2009 at 04:32

    Best of luck with your efforts here.

    • RUKind on May 31, 2009 at 06:24

    Obama should be wise enough to know that. Maybe he’s not the guy I thought I voted for.

    We’re scraping the bedrock of human indecency here. The only way to cleanse this wound to our soul is to expose it to the world.

    • sharon on May 31, 2009 at 06:29

    now to get everyone i know to watch it.

    strangely, since i have read most of what was included in various reports over the years, a powerful part for me was seeing these military men stand up and say and do the right thing.  it was one thing to read alberto mora and another entirely to watch him speak.

    i am left with absolute conviction that we must prevail.  i am also left swinging bizarrely between deep revulsion/shame and hope that we may actually prevail.

  2. on re-run this am. Disturbing when you see it all put together! That is precisely the reason why I want to see the photos published on every front page of every newspaper in the  nation! I want to smack everyone who says ‘they’re not that bad’ over the head with them! Treating people like this is inhumane, it’s torture and I don’t care what fancy name you can come up with.

    This was # 1 topic all weekend at the shop to the point where we water boarded Brian who couldn’t wrap his brain around the procedure. It took 3 seconds before he threw the chop sticks.

    To clarify: 1. We’re all friends. 2. Brian wanted it done. 3.We love Brian.

  3. Policy currently being taken by the current Administration toward the evils planned and carried out by the past Administration isn’t a “healing” policy; it is a policy doomed only to stitch up the top layer of a festering wound on the soul of this nation.  

    IMHO, if that policy continues unchallenged, the wound will continue to fester, along with the all the other unaddressed evils of the past, and will destroy the nation’s soul, will enabling evil to continue to flourish.    

  4. and then rewatching it.  Does anyone know if a dvd of the production is available?  I looked on their site but didn’t see anything.  But as usual I likely missed it.

  5. I’d rather not watch something like this sitting in my little office at the computer, and I didnt see a listing of a Repeat on PBS. thanks.

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