Produced by award-winning documentary producer Sherry Jones, Torturing Democracy is an investigation that makes this case:
Pushed by Vice President Dick Cheney, the Bush administration constructed a legal framework to justify and carry out torture, and then used that legal framework to exempt members of the administration for their actions. In effect, Bush and Cheney subverted the Constitution because in their minds in a time of war such actions were justified in guaranteeing security.
Jones tried to get Torturing Democracy on PBS this past summer, or at the latest, during the fall. Instead, PBS argued with her about the documentary’s title, and then said the first date for a national broadcast would be after Bush was no longer president. The New York Times revealed the dispute in October and noted WNET, the PBS affiliate in New York City was willing to show the documentary. The Times wondered if the documentary would be broadcast in Washington, D.C. while Bush was president. As if it was taking up the gauntlet, WETA, one of the PBS affiliates serving D.C., broadcast the documentary the day after the story ran in The Times. But the documentary received no promotion and didn't even make the TV listings. The result: low ratings. The PBS ombudsman documented all this but fell short of criticizing the network for bowing to political pressure or even for journalistic negligence in not responding quickly to a long unfolding public affairs issue.
Since that time WMPT, another PBS affiliate serving D.C. has run the documentary, but again with little fanfare and only a few weeks before the new Obama administration takes office. As it stands, each of the country's more than 350 PBS outlets will decide if and when to run the documentary instead of the program being broadcast simultaneously nationwide. This, of course, lessens the possible impact of Torturing Democracy.
The film can be watched, streaming, in three parts at:
Feb 19, 2009, 19:01:49
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