Reckoning With Torture: Memos and Testimonials From the "War on Terror"

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Before the September 11th attacks, the United States condemned torture, protested secret tribunals, decried disappearances, and challenged secret and arbitrary detentions. But a growing public record of official documents and testimonies makes undeniably clear that prisoners were tortured, abused, and in some cases even killed in U.S. custody since 9/11, and that officials at the very highest levels of our government authorized and encouraged the mistreatment.

Although the record of abuse is growing clearer, the Obama administration – by fighting to keep secret documents that would allow the public to better understand the torture program, and seeking to extinguish lawsuits brought by torture survivors – has gradually become an obstacle to accountability for torture. The U.S.’s failure to address and redress torture undermines the rule of law in the United States and weakens our ability to encourage and spread support for the rule of law internationally.

In an effort to build support for accountability for torture, the ACLU and the PEN American Center have developed a public education program that draws attention to the torture and abuse of detainees in U.S. custody. “Reckoning with Torture: Memos and Testimonies from the “War on Terror” delivers key facts of the torture program through dramatic readings of documents related to the torture program, combined with video testimonials from former Guantánamo detainees and artwork by artist Jenny Holzer that incorporates government torture records.

You can help play a role in demanding meaningful accountability for torture by hosting your own "Reckoning With Torture" program. Download the program script and stage your own evening of readings – at a theater or auditorium, on a university campus, at a local library or community center, or around your own coffee table. Events around the country will help build support for a full investigation of the torture program.

The United States has some reckoning to do, and we invite you to start with the evidence.

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