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A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Robyn Shepherd, (212) 519-7829 or 549-2666;

ACLU And PEN American Center Present Reckoning With Torture: Memos And Testimonies From The "War On Terror" October 13 At Cooper Union

Featuring Readings By Writers, Artists, Former Government and Military Officials And A Special Presentation By Jenny Holzer


The American Civil Liberties Union, PEN American Center and the Cooper Union will present Reckoning with Torture: Memos and Testimonies from the "War on Terror,"
an evening of readings calling attention to acts of torture and abuse
carried out by the United States under the Bush administration. The
event, featuring a former CIA officer, a former senior military
interrogator, writers and artists will take place on Tuesday, October
13 at 7:00 p.m. EDT at Cooper Union's Great Hall in New York City.

Among the documents to be read are
autopsy reports concluding that numerous prisoners in U.S. custody died
as a result of harsh interrogations; memos authorizing waterboarding,
sleep deprivation, stress positions and other torture techniques;
detainee Abu Zubaydah's first-hand description of these practices and a
minute-by-minute account of the 2002 torture of Mohammed al-Qahtani,
which took place over six weeks in 2002. Never-before-seen video
excerpts of former Guantanamo detainees talking about their captivity
will be screened between readings.

The documents were made public by
the ACLU's ongoing litigation for documents related to the abuse of
detainees in U.S. custody abroad. Last week, a federal judge in New
York ruled that more government documents describing "enhanced
interrogation techniques" authorized for use by the CIA, as well as
documents describing the contents of destroyed videotapes depicting CIA
interrogations, could remain secret.

"President Obama has spoken
eloquently about the importance of restoring America's moral authority
abroad. Restoring that moral authority, though, will require restoring
the rule of law at home, and restoring the rule of law at home will
require finally confronting the gross human rights abuses of the last
administration," said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National
Security Project. "Reckoning with Torture will contribute to that crucial process and underscore the pressing need for accountability."

"Both PEN and the ACLU believe
writers have a crucial role to play in examining crimes committed in
the name of their country and in helping the nation face, understand
and reckon with these terrible acts," said Anthony Appiah, President of
PEN American Center. "Writers around the world have been active not
only in exposing such crimes but also winning accountability for such

Reckoning with Torture: Memos and Testimonies from the "War on Terror,"
an evening of readings from recently released secret documents that
have brought these abuses to light - memos, declassified communications
and testimonies by detainees.


  • Opening and closing remarks from Anthony Appiah, President of PEN American Center and Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project
  • Readings by authors Jonathan Ames, Paul Auster, Ishmael Beah, Don DeLillo, Eve Ensler, Nell Freudenberger, A.M. Homes, Susanna Moore, George Saunders and Art Spiegelman; Matthew Alexander, former U.S. interrogator and author of How to Break a Terrorist; David Cole, constitutional law professor; Jack Rice, former CIA officer; and Amrit Singh, Senior Legal Officer for the National Security and Counterterrorism program at the Open Society Justice Initiative
  • Visual
    presentation by artist Jenny Holzer of artwork based on declassified
    government documents, including billboard-sized banners hung on the
    exterior of Cooper Union's Great Hall. Images will include redacted
    hand prints of U.S. soldiers accused of crimes in Iraq and postmortem
    identifications of prisoners who died while in custody

Tuesday, October 13, 2009
7:00 p.m. EDT

The Great Hall at Cooper Union
7 East 7th Street at Third Avenue
New York, NY

$15/$10 for PEN/ACLU members and students with a valid ID. Tickets are available through
or (212) 868-4444. They may also be purchased at the door. Seating is
by general admission, on a first-come, first-served basis. For press
inquiries, please contact the ACLU.

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

(212) 549-2666