Rob Richer, the No. 2 ranking official in the CIA's clandestine service, paid a visit to Glenn Carle's office in December 2002 and presented the veteran CIA operative with an urgent proposal.
"I want you to go on a temporary assignment," Carle recalls Richer telling him. "It's important for the agency, it's important for the country and it's important for you. Will you do it?"
Richer, who resigned from the CIA in 2005 and went to work for the mercenary outfit Blackwater, told Carle that agency operatives had just rendered a "high-value target," an Afghan in his mid-forties named Haji Pacha Wazir, who was purported to be Osama bin Laden's personal banker as well as financier for a number of suspected terrorists. Wazir was being held at a CIA black site prison in Morocco, and the agency needed a clandestine officer who spoke French to take over the interrogation of the detainee.
Carle, formerly the deputy national intelligence officer for transitional threats, who had no prior interrogation experience, agreed, and within 72 hours, he boarded a CIA-chartered jet bound for Morocco.=
Carle recounts what unfolded next in his riveting book, "The Interrogator: An Education," which stands as a damning indictment of the CIA's torture and rendition program and the Bush administration's approach to the so-called Global War on Terror.
Carle refers to Wazir in his book as CAPTUS. The CIA, which did not respond to requests for comment for this report, would not allow Carle to print Wazir 's name in his book, nor was he permitted to disclose the locations of the two black site prisons where Wazir was imprisoned and tortured.
A report published in Harper's in July first disclosed that CAPTUS is Wazir and the location of the CIA black site prisons where he was held.
During an on-camera interview with Truthout in Washington, DC, Carle said he originally believed the agency had captured a "significant Al-Qaeda leader" who had been a concern to US intelligence agencies "for a long time."
"The assessment that was made of [Wazir] was quite compelling and I accepted it," Carle said. "I knew my colleagues to be hard-working and careful and that they reviewed their assessments regularly and the assessment was that [Wazir] was one of the top players in Al-Qaeda."
Although Carle was told by a top agency official that he should do "whatever it takes to get this man to talk," which he said he understood meant using torture to "break this fellow's will" and obtain intelligence, Carle said he "would not do it [because] it was wrong."
Instead, Carle said he interrogated Wazir using standard rapport-building techniques and "psychological manipulation" that led the detainee to believe Carle was his "friend."
Carle concluded not long after he began interrogating Wazir that the agency had "kidnapped" the "wrong guy" and Wazir, who ran an informal money-transfer business known as a Hawala, was not a "committed jihadist" or Bin Laden's personal banker.
Wazir was "more like a train conductor who sells a criminal a ticket," Carle writes in "The Interrogator." "Slowly, progressively, first in dismay, then in anger, I had realized that on the CAPTUS case the Agency, the government, all of us, had been victims of delusion."
Wazir's life had been "destroyed" based on what Carle characterized as an "error."
But the CIA's position did not change. The agency believed Wazir was withholding intelligence due to the fact that he could not answer specific questions. So in an attempt to convince him to reveal information about Al-Qaeda, agency operatives kidnapped his older brother, Haji Ghaljai, in December 2002 and held him captive for six months at the same black site prison.
Carle documented his conclusions about Wazir, and called for his immediate release, in top-secret cables he prepared that were supposed to be sent to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. However, Carle said when he later inquired about his cables he discovered they "were never transmitted so they never formerly existed."
The US government eventually moved Wazir from Morocco to the infamous Salt Pit prison in Afghanistan, which Carle refers to as "Hotel California," and then transferred him to the Bagram prison facility.
Carle described in great detail the conditions in which Wazir and other detainees were held at the black site prisons.
“It was instantaneously, completely black,” Carle said about the black site prisons. “Not dark, black. A darkness where literally I could not see my hand…Totally black. And there was loud incessant noise or a series of other sounds. Babies wailing, sounds that would appear to be someone being hit or car crashes or wheels screeching. The goal is to play upon the senses so as to disorient the prisoner.”
Carle said he believed the psychological methods used to disorient detainees rose to the level of torture. He said that if "things got out of hand" during an interrogation a CIA psychologist would step in. Carle said, however, he “never saw any of the physical techniques being administered [to Wazir]” while he was present.
“Whenever anything came up to make that possible I wouldn’t allow it,” Carle said. “I stopped it. So I wasn’t aware of that happening. But I don’t know what happened to him after I left” the black site prison.[more ...]