This is the never-before-told story of the 'dark side' of the Bush administration's war on terror, and of one of the CIA's biggest failures -- the kidnapping, rendition, and torture of the wrong man -- as told by a person who conducted the interrogation. It is an indictment of the CIA's enhanced interrogation from the inside, from a very senior operative. It is also the story of a patriot -- Glenn Carle -- and his struggle to do the right thing. And, of course, to some of his ex-colleagues he is regarded as a traitor for revealing the truth.
The book is Carle's affirmation that only the truth can lead us from the dark. He had years of training and experience leading up to his encounter with the captive who the CIA believed might hold the key to finding bin Laden. This was his apotheosis as a career spook in the Directorate of Operations, yet Carle immediately struggled to reconcile his orders to make his captive talk with the oath he had sworn to uphold the letter and the spirit of the law. Furthermore, as the interrogation began and he built rapport with his subject, another problem started to gnaw at him. This man wasn't who he was alleged to be; he was low level at best. But while Carle's scepticism grew, his superiors continued to insist that they had the right man. The suspect was moved to one of the CIA's most notorious black sites, and subjected to 'enhanced interrogation techniques'.
Initially enthusiastic about his role at the CIA, Carle eventually began to question the policies of the war on terror because of his involvement in this interrogation. Throughout the operation he had to grapple with the most difficult question a patriot can face: what do you do when your government tells you to do something that is morally abhorrent?
Carle's journey often reads like an international thriller, but it is a true tale of international intrigue, deceit, and betrayal. It is also an extraordinary and intimate portrait of the war on terror.
‘From a 27-year CIA veteran, a thoroughly documented insider’s view of illegal activities undertaken on the “dark side” of the global war on terror.
As an experienced CIA spy, Carle came to the conclusion that there was a major disconnect between the White House’s Global war on terror and the reality he experienced. In the aftermath of 9/11, he was assigned to interrogate a suspected top al-Qaeda terrorist. He details the battles which followed, at least as much as possible under the conditions of CIA censorship—black boxes in the text indicate the work of Agency redactors. At the beginning, Carle was asked what he would do if he was required to violate not only the letter of the law, but also his own standards of honor and duty. Previously acquired interrogation skills led to him to the conclusion that his prisoner was not the man his captors believed him to be. He was neither a leader of al-Qaeda nor someone who possessed useful information about terrorism. Nonetheless, Carle’s conclusions were of no effect against the process that was underway. This was only one incident that the author considers indicative of a pattern of the CIA and the White House ignoring evidence that conflicted with the official policy narrative. By the end of the assignment, Carle was questioning how the United States had been reduced to such utter lawlessness. He believes there are still remedial steps that need to be taken to address what he calls a self-created problem of narrow perspective, hyped threats and deluded perceptions. Among them, he advocates the formation of a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” similar to the one legislated into existence by the South African parliament after the end of apartheid.
Firsthand knowledge of what many have already suspected about the American intelligence community’s methods.’
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‘[A] thoroughly documented insider’s view of illegal activities undertaken on the ‘dark side’ of the global war on terror ... Firsthand knowledge of what many have already suspected about the American intelligence community’s methods.’
‘Carle captures the spirit of the CIA – its bureaucracy, dedication, machismo – in a voice that manages to be descriptive, analytical, reflective, and philosophical in turn. Despite the CIA’s numerous redactions (the author notes that the CAPTUS story is even darker than he can say), the narrative raises pointed, timely, and important questions about the policies of the CIA and the U.S. government as they ramped up the global war on terror.’
Publishers Weekly, starred review
‘Carle's account of this morally murky area is a page-turning thriller, a gripping and powerful story.’
Sunday Herald Sun
‘This haunted, powerful book may well be the best and most truthful first-hand account of life inside the CIA ever published.’
‘Glenn Carle's book The Interrogator is a disturbing tale of the extremes to which the Bush administration was prepared to go in its Global War on Terror. Faceless bureaucrats sacrificed the core values that made the United States a great country, while ignoring the counsel of experts on the ground. This is a damning story and a nation of laws would demand an investigation into whether crimes were committed. We fear that we are no longer that nation.’
Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame Wilson
‘In The Interrogator, Glenn Carle has done more than simply lift a part of the curtain behind which are lurking despicable men such as John Yoo and Douglas Feith, he has turned the stage lights on those who stand out front and continue to receive rave reviews from the rabid right wing, men such as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. But most of all, Carle’s moving and emotional story—in spite of CIA redactions to the text—has exposed us all, from the CIA officers who turned a blind eye, to the cabinet members who should have known better, to the American people themselves because they allowed such people to corrupt our nation. I know; I was one of them.’
Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell
‘Glenn Carle shares his personal experience and soul-searching reflection on rendition, detention, and interrogation in the Global War on Terrorism. It is a cathartic effort that recounts an intensely emotional journey. Carle weighs what he sees as the corrosive effect of this experience on him, his Agency, and his country. Ultimately the detainee interrogated may not have suffered most; perhaps it was the interrogator himself.’
John H. Hedley, former Chairman of CIA’s Publications Review Board
’This fascinating insider narrative of GWOT is one of the best assessments I have ever read on the major discrepancy between the jihadi challenge and the US response.’
Gilles Kepel, Professor and Chair, Middle East and Mediterranean Studies, Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris; author of Beyond Terror and Martydom: The Future of the Middle East
‘Glenn Carle’s The Interrogator is a remarkable memoir—for its searing personal honesty, for its portrait of the amoral secret bureaucracy of the CIA, and most of all for its revelation of how a decent American became part of a process that we can only call torture.’
David Ignatius, columnist for The Washington Post and author of Body of Lies