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Piecing Together Bush's Torture Program

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September 24, 2009

Today we launch The Torture Report. On this site, over the next several months, we will construct a comprehensive account of the Bush administration’s torture program.

The goal is simple: to tell the whole story and to get it right. How to do this — how to bring together everything we know from tens of thousands of formerly secret documents, from official and independent investigations, from press reports and the many good books that have recently appeared, and from the growing number of first-hand accounts of those who witnessed, participated in, or suffered mistreatment, how to register it all so we can come to some conclusions — is a daunting challenge.

But it’s a challenge we all share. In a way, as the Report’s lead writer, I’m just trying to do what any one of us should be doing in the face of evidence that our elected officials presided over gross human rights violations: to piece together exactly what happened and who is responsible.

I have help, fortunately. As sections are posted, a group of expert Contributors will offer comments; you’ll see their annotations, which will include corrections, elaborations, questions, and suggestions, in-line in the text. We invite your comments as well; these will appear at the end of the chapters. The Report will be constantly updated to incorporate the best of these suggestions and the very latest information.

We begin at the beginning — the first days after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. This chapter, “Origins,” looks at two of the earliest actions of the Bush administration, one that literally opened a space for torture to happen and one that revealed the administration’s approach to legal barriers and restrictions.

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