Wednesday, May 4, 2011

  • Former Military Interrogator Matthew Alexander: Despite GOP Claims, "Immoral" Torture "Slowed Down" Effort to Find Osama bin Laden

    Alexander

    The death of Osama bin Laden has sparked a debate over whether torture of suspects held at places such as the U.S. military base at Guantánamo Bay helped track down and kill the al-Qaeda leader. Some claim the mission vindicated controversial Bush policies on harsh interrogation techniques. We speak with Matthew Alexander, a former senior military interrogator in Iraq. "The laying of the groundwork, if you will, of these [Bush-era] techniques, I believe wholeheartedly, slowed us down on the road towards Osama bin Laden and numerous other members of al-Qaeda," Alexander says. "I’m convinced we would have found him a lot earlier had we not resorted to torture and abuse." [includes rush transcript]

  • 50th Anniversary of the First Freedom Ride: New Documentary Recounts Historic 1961 Effort to Challenge Segregated Bus System in the Deep South

    Freedom

    It was 50 years ago today, on May 4, 1961, when mixed groups of black and white students took two public buses from Washington, D.C., and intended to arrive in New Orleans two weeks later. They were risking their lives to challenge segregation, and called themselves the “Freedom Riders.” President Obama has issued a proclamation honoring May 2011 as the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides, and called on Americans to celebrate their struggle for equal rights during the civil rights movement. At last year’s Sundance Film Festival, we spoke to Stanley Nelson about his new documentary, which tells the story of what happened to these brave students and how they inspired hundreds of others to join the Freedom Rides and eventually succeed in desegregating public transportation. We also speak to two Freedom Riders featured in the film, Bernard Lafayette and Jim Zwerg. Freedom Riders will air on PBS’s American Experience on May 16. [includes rush transcript]