« Previous | Main | Next »

Licence to Torture

Researching Licence to Torture involved diving head first into a myriad of lengthy government reports and a detailed examination of the text and footnotes of a small library of books and other resources on the subject.

I chose to focus on a very specific storyline - not the question that dominates in America, which is whether torture works or not, which has emerged as the major debate in America, and not what should happen now to the detainees in Guantanamo Bay, not even the question of whether there will be prosecutions.

Instead I chose to ask whether a crime was committed by members of the Bush administration in authorising the interrogation techniques in question. It seemed a central question to ask of the world's most powerful democracy.

To get those answers involved months of off-the-record discussions with former members of the Bush administration, former CIA insiders - some at a very senior level - members of the FBI, a large number of former detainees who had been through the American detention centres, several authors and a wide range of lawyers who specialise in the subject.

The debate is very polemic. Some talked to us because they wanted to clear their own names, some because they wanted to set the record straight about the Bush administration's programmes, others out of pure good will.

The majority of the information gleaned from these conversations is not reported in Licence to Torture, but they were key in providing the backdrop for the film. To make this film we needed an understanding of what motivated the interrogation programmes, who played the key roles, and what the implications are for decisions taken under American and international law.

While there is still much to be said on all these subjects, Licence to Torture breaks new ground in key areas and begins to answer some of these vital questions about America's decision to adopt torture techniques.


  • Comment number 1.

    Great programme. We must stop government sponsored torture! Especially from so-called friendly governments! Only programmes like this can stop it.

    It is not only morally indefensible but completely useless at gaining intelligence and provides no evidence for a court.

    The waterboarding is only PART of the torture that the supposed terrorists endured.

  • Comment number 2.

    The Bush administration should be held accountable for its "War on Terror" and it`s tactics of torture against it`s so called enemies.War crimes are war crimes unless of course they are committed by the Americans or the Israelis.The "West" can no longer claim any moral high ground in it`s dealings with the rest of the world and the world will not forget for a very long time what has taken place in the name of democracy.In my opinion Bush and Blair and their advisers are war criminals and no different to others in history who have carried out aggressive war.

    There is and will be a cover up but we, the people, are not stupid.

    Obama should allow the law to take its course and prosecute those responsible in America and in Britain.This will not happen of course and heaps more shame on us.It is still going on too, 3000 Americans died on 9/11 but how many hundreds of thousands have since died? You cannot fight terrorism with armies and bombs, it is just not possible.

    Bill Beeby Dover in Kent.


More from this blog...


These are some of the popular topics this blog covers.

Latest contributors

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.