The New America Foundation’s National Security Studies Program hosted an event on August 8 with former CIA clandestine officer Glenn Carle. Mr. Carle spoke about his new book, The Interrogator: An Education, in which he discusses his experiences as head of the interrogation of a “high-value” terrorism detainee in two C.I.A. “black sites” abroad, and the lessons he learned about terrorism and the failings of the Global War on Terror. The event was moderated by Patrick Doherty, deputy director of the National Security Studies Program.
Following an introduction, Mr. Carle explained the nature of U.S. interrogation practices after 9/11, and detailed the series of cirumstances that led him to question the government’s “do whatever it takes” policies. Being trained to always adhere to the limits set in place by tenents like Executive Order 12333 and the Geneva Convention, Mr. Carle struggled to accept the new “enhanced interrogation techniques” as being either useful or morally acceptable. As his interrogation of the detainee progressed, he became convinced that the man was innocent and had no substantial connection to any terrorist organization. Although he tried to communicate his convictions, the C.I.A.’s bureaucratic momentum and determination to avoid any further terrorist attacks prevented him from being heard.
Mr. Carle believes that the methods currently employed as U.S. counter-terrorism policy were once unthinkable and that terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda are not the existential threats they have been made out to be. He ended his remarks by explaining that he wrote the book because the truth is the only way people will understand how to avoid the mistakes made in the War on Terror.
A question-and-answer period followed, in which Mr. Carle discussed the mostly positive reactions to his book despite its controversial subject, what (if anything) should be done to those who implemented the policies of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” and the need for the full truth to be told.