The Progressive


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 abuses."

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