Torture Made in USA
Examines the George W. Bush administration's systematic use of torture and questions whether key members could be prosecuted for war crimes.
Directed by Marie-Monique Robin
Photography: Olivier Chambon
Sound: Marc Duployer
Editing: Françoise Boulègue
Original Music: Jean-Louis Valéro
A co-production of Galaxie Presse - C.F.R.T. in association with ARTE France
Exactly how did the world's most powerful democracy construct and implement a dubious legal framework that not only legalized the use of torture but legitimized it to politicians, academics, intellectuals, and media pundits alike? Who exactly was behind this dark and hotly debated chapter in American history?
"Powerful and impressive...a meticulous step by step explanation of how the United States embraced and implemented torture as official policy." Dr. Charles Anthony Smith, Assoc. Prof., Political Science Dept, UC-Irvine
Internationally acclaimed journalist and filmmaker Marie-Monique Robin set out to investigate the historic events and machinations of key policy leaders that led the U.S. to use systematic torture on a massive scale in Afghanistan, Guantanamo and Iraq in the name of national security and the War on Terror.
Mixing stunning archival footage and on-the-ground detective work, the film includes exclusive interviews with several key players including: General Ricardo Sanchez, former commander of the coalition forces in Iraq (who speaks for the first time on camera); Larry Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former Chief of Staff; Matthew Waxman, former advisor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Alberto Mora, former US Navy General Counsel; and Michael Scheuer, chief architect of the CIA's Extraordinary Renditions program.
Grade Level: 10 - 12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2014
Copyright Date: 2010
DVD ISBN: 1-94154-507-6
"Powerful and impressive...This is a meticulous step by step explanation of how the United States embraced and implemented torture as official policy. Marie-Monique reveals the conflict between the career legal and military personnel on the one hand, and the political members of the Bush administration on the other...The film reveals that, although torture is ineffective and illegal, the Bush administration was committed to torture as a critical element of the rhetoric and framing of the war on terror."
Dr. Charles Anthony Smith, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of California - Irvine, Author, The Rise and Fall of War Crimes Trials, From Charles I to Bush II
"Torture Made In USA, a graphic, in-depth portrayal of the road that led to torture at Abu Ghraib prison, leaves the viewer with a lingering sadness over the stain of the torture policy on the nation's moral identity. Relying on candid interviews with those who witnessed or participated in the evolving torture policy, the film documents the cold-blooded embrace of illegality by top officials in the Bush administration and depicts the fruitless results of efforts of those who protested the torture policy both at the time and in hindsight. This film valiantly seeks to hold accountable those who have otherwise remained beyond the arm of the law over Abu Ghraib."
Karen Joy Greenberg, Director, Center on National Security, Fordham University, Author, The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib and The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo's First 100 Days
"The powerful testimonies of the well-informed insiders are a valuable, truthful corrective to the euphemism-ridden and sanitized official accounts."
Henry Shue, Professor of Politics and International Relations, Centre for International Studies, University of Oxford, Author, Basic Rights: Subsistence, Affluence, and U.S. Foreign Policy
"An absorbing journey into one of the darkest episodes of American history - the use of torture and other degrading and inhumane treatment against terror suspects. This is the story of blatant violations of both international and federal law and of officials who rely on complicit lawyers to aggressively reinterpret the law so as to implement immoral, illegal, and politically suicidal objectives. All this happened without holding any senior officials accountable. Students and others who watch this film will be reminded of the fragility of the rule of law, even in America."
David Scheffer, Professor of Law, Director of the Center for International Human Rights, Northwestern University, Author All the Missing Souls: A Personal History of the War Crimes Tribunals
"If we are to end U.S. torture, people in this country need two things: a full accounting of what has been done in our name, and full accountability for those responsible. Torture Made in USA makes this case clearly and forcefully. Incisive interviews with key figures illuminate the 'dark side' of the U.S. war on terror, leaving the viewer thoroughly informed and outraged."
Dr. Rebecca Gordon, Lecturer of Philosophy, University of San Francisco, Author of Mainstreaming Torture: Ethical Approaches in the Post-9/11 United States
"Both provides an introduction to the use of torture in the war on terror and opens up a number of potential areas for student debate...Would fit well into courses on human rights, state and society, and even criminology."
Lisa Stampnitzky, Teaching Sociology Journal
"Torture Made In USA is critical reconstruction of the political and legal steps that led the US to depart from the tradition of international human rights and its own history. This film is vital to keep this history alive for the current generation of Americans and concerned global citizens around the world. This film is also a perfect classroom resource to introduce students to the law and context of American torture after 2001 and its ongoing consequences for US law and society."
Jonathan Simon, Professor of Law, Director of the Center for the Study of Law and Society, University of California at Berkeley, Author, Governing through Crime: How the War on Crime Transformed American Democracy and Created a Culture of Fear
"Highly recommended...A stunning and gripping presentation of how politics, media and a 'dark other' are used to spin a demoniacal foe-a foe in which no terms of war require a morality."
Malcolm L. Rigsby, Henderson State University, Educational Media Reviews Online
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DVD includes optional English subtitles, and scene selection.
Awards and Festivals
Special Jury Prize, Festival des Libertés, Brussels, Belgium
Olivier Quemener-RSF Award, FIGRA Le Touquet, France
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... more Reviews
"Torture: Made In USA cannot simply be dismissed as advocacy journalism. The documentary features a remarkable number of major players from the American military and Bush-Cheney administration...Offering a clear and thorough explanation of exactly why the U.S. lost both prestige and moral authority worldwide during the early years of the wars, this is highly recommended."
T. Keogh, Video Librarian
"Chilling...Raise[s] important issues regarding the use of torture during wartime. Recommended for viewers interested in intelligence issues."
Stephen L. Hupp, West Virginia University, Library Journal