As Barack Obama is sworn in for his second term, FRONTLINE takes a probing look at the first four years of his presidency.
Could the representatives of the Bush administration be prosecuted for “war crimes”? This investigative documentary dismantles the machine that led “the world’s greatest democracy” to use systematic torture on a massive scale in Afghanistan, Guantanamo and Iraq.
We discover that, immediately after the 11 September attacks, Vice President Dick Cheney piloted a secret programme, aimed at “legalising” torture, which not only totally violated the Geneva Conventions (the 60th anniversary of which was celebrated in 2009), but also violated the Convention against Torture (signed by the United States) and U.S laws such as the War Crimes Act of 1996, in which the death penalty or life imprisonment is imposed on those who use torture.
The film is supported by exclusive interviews with major witnesses – 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 Condoleeza Rice at the White House, Alberto Mora, former US Navy General Counsel, and Michael Scheuer, chief architect of the CIA’s “Extraordinary Renditions” programme. It is also backed up with previously unaired filmed archives of the parliamentary hearings carried out between 2004 and 2008, in particular by the US Senate Armed Services Committee.