June is Torture Awareness Month. All month, we’ve been combing through the more than 150,000 formerly secret documents relating to the torture and abuse of detainees held in U.S. custody overseas to feature on The Torture Report and Blog of Rights.
Since last fall, the ACLU has been partnering up with the PEN American Center to host live readings of some of these torture documents, as well as other testimonies and accounts related to the abuse of detainees in the so-called “war on terror.” This past April, our Reckoning with Torture event in Washington, D.C., featured Congressmen John Conyers (D-Mich.), Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.); former military interrogator Matthew Alexander; The Daily Show’s Aasif Mandvi; and authors Alice McDermott, Paul Auster, Susan Shreve and others reading from the torture documents.
Among the highlights: Aasif Mandvi reads a statement by extraordinary rendition victim Khaled el-Masri, whom the ACLU represented in lawsuit against then-CIA director George Tenet. (The statement, originally published as an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, is called “America Kidnapped Me.”) Especially chilling is Reps. Scott and Ellison’s readings of the torture of Abu Zubaydah. Rep. Scott read from the Office of Legal Counsel memo that authorized the torture, and Rep. Ellison read Zubaydah’s first-hand account of his torture and interrogation from the International Committee for the Red Cross report.
You can find them all at our Reckoning with Torture YouTube playlist. And if you’d like to hold a reading event of your own, check out our Reckoning with Torture activist toolkit.