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.
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.