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Former CIA Agent Reveals Secret Prison Torture Details

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Former CIA Agent Reveals Secret Prison Torture Details

guantanamo bayA former CIA agent, Glenn Carle, has written a controversial memoir enlightening readers of his time spent at “Hotel California”, where he was ordered to torture a prisoner using a method known as “psychological dislocation”.

It was a man he believed to be innocent.

So controversial is Carle’s book that, for the past two years, the former CIA agent has been involved in a legal battle with the CIA, which has won the right to redact 40 percent of the book.

The divisive memoir titled, “The Interrogator: An Education”, has put the issue of torturing prisoners back into the limelight.

The author of the book had grown up in Boston and had become a spy for the CIA, head of the agency’s Afghanistan team and an expert in al Qaeda.

Despite thriving in the role, Carle made a devastating blunder that cost him his position – at a meeting with foreign spies, he left a briefcase full of documents behind.

Devastated by the demotion, Carle leapt at the chance when, in the wake of 9/11, his superiors offered him the chance to interrogate a prisoner they believed could lead them to Bin Laden, who was now the most wanted man in the world.

Assignment: Hotel California

Glenn Carle was sent to a notorious “black site” in an undisclosed country, known as Hotel California. The prisoner, Captus, who was a suspected senior al-Qaeda operative, always declared his innocence, and Carle admits that he believed him.

In 2003 the Bush Administration had “legalised” interrogating high value prisoners with “enhanced interrogation techniques”.

Unlike the atrocities one would normally associate with torture – like being beaten up, hung from the ankles, etc. – the much more sinister and sickening enhanced interrogation techniques aimed to “psychologically dislocate” a detainee, so that the suspect would be willing to share his secrets.

Speaking about the type of torture methods agents would use at “black sites” such as Hotel California, Carle said in the Daily Mail that the methods used to try and get Captus to “confess” used various means:

“Psychological and physical measures, primarily intended to disrupt Circadian rhythms and an individual’s perceptions. So noise, temperature, one’s sense of time, sleep, diet, light, darkness, physical freedom – the normal reference points for one’s senses are all distorted. Reality disappears, and so do one’s reference points. It is shockingly easy to disorient someone.”

These ‘disorientating’ techniques which were approved by the Justice Department in 2003, included the attention grasp, walling, the facial hold, the facial slap, the abdominal slap, cramped confinement, wall standing, stress positions, sleep deprivation beyond 72 hours, the use of nappies, harnessing insects and water boarding.

The Morality of Psychological Torture

guantanamo bayGlenn Carle’s dilemma, a dilemma that affected him so vividly that he felt compelled to write a book about it, was the morality of subjecting another human being to such psychological torture – especially in the case of Captus, a man that Carle believed to be innocent.

“What should one do? How could one follow one’s orders and accomplish one’s mission when it was flawed, objectionable…That’s the supreme dilemma I wrestled with, and others did, too,” Carle told

So what did the ex CIA agent do? He wrote a book about his disturbing experiences at Hotel California. We can safely assume that those experiences were not half as disturbing for Carle as they were for Captus, who, incidentally was released by the CIA eight years later without ceremony or explanation.

Building a Legacy of Human Torture

This is not the first time torture at modern-day U.S. prisons have been the subject of media attention and debate.

In 2008, the inhumane practises at Guantanamo Bay detention facility were brought to mainstream attention when the “trial” of Salim Ahmed Hamdan began at Guantanamo Bay. Salim faced life imprisonment on charges of “material support for terrorism”, and had essentially been driven insane by spending at least 22 hours a day in solitary confinement.

Hamdan was accused by Bush-era military inquisitors of “aiding and abetting” terrorist attacks around the world. The prisoner’s defence team said that the severe restrictions of Guantanamo alone essentially “boiled his mind”.

The notorious Guantanamo Bay was established in 2002 by the Bush Administration to hold detainees from the war in Afghanistan. In 2009, the White House announced that President Obama had signed an order so that the detention facility would be shut down within a year.

In January 2011, President Obama signed the Defence Authorisation Bill, which contains provisions preventing the transfer of Guantanamo prisoners to the mainland, thus effectively preventing the closure of the prison, which he had previously promised the American people.

After the United Nations called unsuccessfully for Guantanamo Bay to be closed, one judge asserted, “America’s idea of what is torture… does not appear to coincide with that of most civilised nations.”

Getting Away With Torture

Glenn Carle’s book is not only a stark and open reminder that torture is a crime – in the case of detainee Captus, it’s a reminder that torture is essentially worthless in producing reliable information.

The book is also a reminder of America’s stance on torture. It also calls to attention the fact that a man has admitted to torturing detainees, and yet he is allowed to walk free, write books and appear on daytime chat shows. There obviously needs to be a serious appraisal in America of laws surrounding torture and those who commit it.

Image Credit: Glenn Carle

Originally published on

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