Here are the confessions of a senior CIA operative who ran the interrogation of one of the highest profile al-Qaeda captures in the last decade. Carle’s journey is a tale of international intrigue, deceit, and betrayal—it is also an extraordinary and intimate portrait of our war on terror.
To his friends and neighbors, Glenn L. Carle was a wholesome, stereotypical New England Yankee, a former athlete struggling against incipient middle age, someone always with his nose in an abstruse book. But for two decades, Carle broke laws, stole, and lied on a daily basis about nearly everything. “I was almost never who I said I was, or did what I claimed to be doing.” He was a CIA spy. He thrived in an environment of duplicity and ambiguity, flourishing in the gray areas of policy.
The Interrogator is the story of Carle’s most serious assignment, when he was “surged” into the global war on terror to interrogate a top-level detainee at one of the CIA’s notorious black sites overseas. It tells of his encounter with one of the most senior al-Qaeda detainees the United States captured after 9/11, a “ghost detainee” who, the CIA believed, might hold the key to finding Osama bin Laden.
But as Carle’s interrogation sessions progressed, he began to seriously doubt the operation. Was this man, kidnapped in the Middle East, really the senior al-Qaeda official the CIA believed he was? Headquarters viewed Carle’s misgivings as naïve troublemaking. Carle found himself isolated, progressively at odds with his institution and his orders. He struggled over how far to push the interrogation, wrestling with whether his actions constituted torture and with what defined his real duty to his country. Then, in a dramatic twist, headquarters spirited the detainee and Carle to the CIA’s harshest interrogation facility, a place of darkness and fear, which even CIA officers dared mention only in whispers.
A haunting tale of sadness, confusion, and determination, The Interrogator is a shocking and intimate look at the world of espionage. It leads the reader through the underworld of the global war on terror, asking us to consider the professional and personal challenges faced by an intelligence officer during a time of war and the unimaginable ways in which war alters our institutions and American society.