This spring, PBS's distinguished Frontline series aired a mildly critical account of the lead-up to the Iraq War entitled "Bush's War." As the airing of the program was announced, the Bush Administration proposed to slash public funding for PBS by roughly half for 2009, by 56% for 2010 and eliminating funding entirely for 2011. Did PBS get the message? Perhaps.
On Thursday evening WNET in New York will air an important new documentary by Emmy and Dupont Award winning producer Sherry Jones entitled "Torturing Democracy." It appears on WNET and several other affiliates independently because PBS would not run the show--at least not until President Bush has left office. The show delivers impressively on a promise to "connect the dots in an investigation of interrogations of prisoners in U.S. custody that became 'at a minimum, cruel and inhuman treatment and, at worst, torture'" (quoting Alberto Mora, who served as general counsel of the Navy under Donald Rumsfeld, and features in an interview). In one dramatic scene, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage describes being waterboarded as part of a training program he went through before being sent to Vietnam. Did he consider waterboarding to be torture, Armitage was asked? "Absolutely. No question." And he continued, "There is no question in my mind--there's no question in any reasonable human being, that this is torture. I'm ashamed that we're even having this discussion."