Lesson Plan

The War on Terror and the Debate Over Torture


This 13-minute video and lesson plan are designed for students to analyze the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the public debate over the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques by U.S. officials and government contractors. Students will evaluate multiple perspectives from a mix of resources (video clips, a short film, documents and political cartoons) and classify arguments as being supportive, neutral or critical of government action.


Students will:

  • Examine multiple perspectives related to the U.S. response to the 9/11 attacks and subsequent war on terror.
  • Evaluate and classify arguments from the provided resources.
  • Investigate additional resources and justify how they add to the students’ understanding of the topic.
  • Social Studies
  • U.S. History
  • Civics & Government
    For Teachers

    Essential Questions

    • How should we evaluate the response of the United States to the 9/11 terror attacks?
    • What arguments best support the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, and what arguments provide the best criticism?
    • What lessons should we learn from the response of the U.S. government, and how should this affect public policy in the future?

    Additional Resources

    Transcript for "He's the Only CIA Contractor Convicted in a Torture-Related Case"Retro Report

    Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.

    Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.

    Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.

    Compare the point of view of two or more authors for how they treat the same or similar topics, including which details they include and emphasize in their respective accounts.

    Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.

    Explain points of agreement and disagreement experts have about interpretations and applications of disciplinary concepts and ideas associated with a compelling question.

    Explain how supporting questions contribute to an inquiry and how, through engaging source work, new compelling and supporting questions emerge.

    Analyze the impact of constitutions, laws, treaties, and interna-tional agreements on the maintenance of national and international order.

    Evaluate public policies in terms of intended and unintended outcomes, and related consequences.

    Evaluate how historical events and developments were shaped by unique circumstances of time and place as well as broader historical contexts.

    Analyze complex and interacting factors that influenced the perspectives of people during different historical eras.

    Analyze how historical contexts shaped and continue to shape people’s perspectives.

    Analyze how current interpretations of the past are limited by the extent to which available historical sources represent perspec-tives of people at the time.

    Use questions generated about multiple historical sources to pursue further inquiry and investigate additional sources.

    Integrate evidence from multiple relevant historical sources and interpretations into a reasoned argument about the past.

    Questions? Tips? Concerns? Reach out to our Director of Education, David Olson: dolson@retroreport.com