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Fabulous new film showing on Public Television: Torturing Democracy

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Starting tonight, Public Television will be viewing the new documentary Torturing Democracy, which is a new film relaying the history of U.S. torture in the war on terror. Topics cover the Yoo-Bybee legal memos, the removal of Geneva protections, torture at the CIA black sites, the  development of Guantanamo, and the torture of many of the detainees whose names we have sadly come to know.

Along the way, the film explains the CIA KUBARK interrogation manual and the role of the military’sSERE [Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape] program. The reverse-engineering of SERE techniques into U.S. torture techniques is described.

Torturing Democracy was produced by Washington Media Associates in association with the National Security Archive. It was written and produced by Sherry Jones. I was given a pre-release copy of the film and watched it the other night. I was amazed at how they managed to cover so much territory in only 90 minutes. There were one or two points at which I felt they went beyond the extant data in their conclusions, but, in general, I found it excellent. While there is certainly overlap with other films — such as Taxi to the Dark Side, Ghosts of abu Ghraib, or S tandard Operating ProcedureTorturing Democracy, perhaps because it was produced later, after more information had become public,  is more comprehensive.

Sometime today, the film’s website is supposed to go live, with a streaming copy of the film and an archive of the documents referred to in it plus other materials.

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If the film is not scheduled in your community, call your local public television station and ask them to show it. You can read a press release here.


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Stephen Soldz is psychoanalyst, psychologist, public health researcher, and faculty member at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. He is co-founder of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology and is President of Psychologists for Social Responsibility. He was a psychological consultant on two of (more...)

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