I first became involved with the American Civil Liberties Union years ago. Their willingness to stand up for liberty and justice is something truly rare. This is particularly true when they also are willing to advocate for some of the weakest, most disenfranchised and yes, hated, people in the country. In this case, it is about those who have been tortured by the U.S. Government after 9/11.
As a former CIA officer, I have extremely strong feeling about this. However, as a criminal defense attorney who walks into courtrooms everyday to stand up for the rights of my clients, I feel the need to stand up as well. Because if we don't, who will.
I appeared at the first Reckoning with Torture event back in 2009 at Cooper's Union in Manhattan. It was an amazing event because of the support we received but also because Abraham Lincoln had once spoken from this same stage. I remember thinking about how wild it was to be standing in the same spot. Incredible. I should add that I had just returned from another trip to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba so the event had a particular significance for me.
In 2010, we took the event on the road and appeared in Washington DC. It was emotional, significant and I felt lucky to be involved. This time around, a couple of members of Congress joined in the event. Aasif Mandvi of the Daily Show was also involved. A really smart and funny guy. Pretty amazing.
A few months ago, we did a similar event at the Sundance Film Festival. Again, wild. The support we received from the Utah Chapter of the ACLU was incredible. A lot of people participated. We had a lot of Hollywood stars including Robert Redford, America Ferrera, Ellen Barkin as well as some Pulitzer Prize Winning writers. It was great. However, there was also one other addition. The event was directed by Doug Liman (director of Fair Game, The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith). He changed it. Added to it. He made it even better.
This time around, filmmaker Doug Liman will will be directing and is also working on a documentary on the topic. In addition, Russell Banks writer, Col. Morris Davis former military prosecutor, Peter Godwin writer, Beth Gutcheon writer, Rula Jebreal writer, Dahlia Lithwick writer, John Buffalo Mailer writer, Kati Marton writer, Lili Taylor actress, and Dianne Wiest actress will take part. Also both Jameel Jaffer Deputy Legal Director, ACLU and Larry Siems Director, PEN Freedom to Write program will take part.
THE ACLU, PEN AMERICAN CENTER, AND FILM SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER.