May 19: “Secrets, Politics and Torture” | Press Release + Trailer

“Waterboarding [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] 183 times did not work,” Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, who spearheaded the report, tells FRONTLINE. “And essentially, by the CIA’s own standard of why they did this, they did not receive otherwise unavailable actionable intelligence.”

But John McLaughlin, former deputy director of the CIA, defends the agency’s decision to employ techniques like waterboarding, forced nudity, days of sleep deprivation, and confinement in coffin-size boxes on terror suspects deemed high-level.

“We were at war. Bad things happen in wars,” McLaughlin tells FRONTLINE. “We felt a moral commitment to protect the United States.”

From the CIA’s use of black site prisons in Thailand, Lithuania, Afghanistan and Poland, to its destruction of nearly 100 hours of videotaped interrogations (and Congress’s fury upon finding out), to the Senate’s standoff with the CIA over the report, Secrets, Politics and Torture tells the dramatic inside story of one of the CIA’s most controversial programs.

It’s the latest in Michael Kirk’s acclaimed line of documentaries examining controversial counterterrorism programs and government secrecy: He traveled to Abu Ghraib to make The Torture Question[7] in 2005, and he just won a Peabody Award for United States of Secrets[8], FRONTLINE’s 2014 examination of how the National Security Agency responded to 9/11.

“As the debate over how far the U.S. should be willing to go in the fight against terrorism continues, we felt it was important to tell the story of this CIA program, comprehensively, in documentary form,” Kirk says. “What we’ve found raises some very tough questions.”



Twitter: @frontlinepbs

Instagram: @frontlinepbs | YouTube:[10][11][12][13]


Secrets, Politics and Torture is a FRONTLINE production with the Kirk Documentary Group. The producers are Michael Kirk, Jim Gilmore and Mike Wiser. The director is Michael Kirk. The writers are Michael Kirk and Mike Wiser. The reporter is Jim Gilmore. The deputy executive producer of FRONTLINE is Raney Aronson-Rath. The executive producer of FRONTLINE is David Fanning.

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