Reckoning with Torture

With Matthew Alexander, Jonathan Ames, K. Anthony Appiah, Paul Auster, Ishmael Beah, David Cole, Don DeLillo, Eve Ensler, Nell Freudenberger, Jenny Holzer, A.M. Homes, Jameel Jaffer, Susanna Moore, Jack Rice, George Saunders, Amrit Singh, and Art Spiegelman

The ACLU and PEN American Center joined forces to present a public event calling attention to acts of torture and abuse carried out by the U.S. under the Bush administration.

Writers and artists took the stage with lawyers, a former military interrogator, and a former CIA agent to read from texts that have brought these abuses to light—memos, declassified communications, affidavits by officials who protested the treatment, legal opinions, and detainee testimonies.

Interspersed between readings, never-before-seen video interviews with former Guantánamo detainees put a human face on the Bush administration’s torture program.

Artist Jenny Holzer’s imagery incorporating U.S. government documents provided a backdrop to the readings.

Collectively, these documents and testimonies 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.

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.

To learn more about the ACLU's Accountability for Torture initiative, please visit:

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