PBS FRONTLINE: THE TORTURE QUESTION 1 OF 5

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PBS FRONTLINE - THE TORTURE QUESTION PART 1 OF 5

Introduction

In mid-August, a FRONTLINE documentary crew made the perilous journey to the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Entering the 280-acre compound in the middle of the night, escorted by helicopters and a convoy of armed Humvees, the crew was following 50 detainees fresh from the battlefield. As they were ordered to kneel in formation on the concrete floor, one detainee nervously asked the FRONTLINE cameraman, "Is this Abu Ghraib?" The answer brought a shudder.

Abu Ghraib has always been a terrifying place to Iraqis -- Saddam Hussein used it as his primary torture chamber -- but in 2004, when graphic photographs of American soldiers abusing prisoners surfaced, Abu Ghraib took on deeper meaning.

"The details of what happened in those cellblocks between the American soldiers and Iraqi detainees are well known," says producer/director Michael Kirk, "but how and why it happened is what took us into the heart of Abu Ghraib that night."

In "The Torture Question", FRONTLINE traces the history of how decisions made in Washington in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11 -- including an internal administration battle over the Geneva Conventions -- led to a robust interrogation policy that laid the groundwork for prisoner abuse in Afghanistan; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and Iraq.

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