Black Site: The CIA in the Post-9/11 World
The CIA's "enhanced interrogation" program in the aftermath of 9/11 has been rightfully condemned for using torture to extract information of dubious value from high-ranking al-Qaeda captives. The 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture excoriated the agency for subjecting detainees to waterboarding, sleep deprivation, hypothermia, stress positions, slapping and nudity, for lying about the program to policymakers and for exercising poor oversight--all for scant actionable information. Those who ran the Program, as it was known in the CIA, disagree with that assessment.
Philip Mudd (The HEAD Game) is the former deputy director of the CIA's Counterterrorist Center and the FBI's National Security Branch. In Black Site: The CIA in the Post-9/11 World, Mudd gives an account of the Program from inside the agency, including interviews with dozens of CIA employees (most of whom remain anonymous). Mudd emphasizes the countrywide panic immediately after September 11. With another wave of terror attacks expected any day, the CIA was given a blank check to pursue al-Qaeda worldwide. Soon the CIA found itself with detainees who presumably had knowledge of the terror group's inner workings. Using legal memos from the Department of Justice as justification, the agency developed an "enhanced interrogation" program that grew from a single black site in Thailand to a global network of secret prisons. Though Black Site sometimes uses legal jargon to obfuscate the ethical lapses of the CIA, it presents a fascinating chronology of the Program's genesis and how its perpetrators felt about their actions. --Tobias Mutter, freelance reviewer