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The Forever Prisoner: The Full and Searing Account of the CIA’s Most Controversial Covert Program

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A monumental feat of investigative reporting on a subject of vital national interest and importance today: the first full and comprehensive account of the most divisive clandestine operation in living memory—America’s torture program known as “enhanced interrogation,” instituted by the CIA following 9/11 Six months after 9/11, CIA and FBI agents captured Abu Zubaydah, mista A monumental feat of investigative reporting on a subject of vital national interest and importance today: the first full and comprehensive account of the most divisive clandestine operation in living memory—America’s torture program known as “enhanced interrogation,” instituted by the CIA following 9/11 Six months after 9/11, CIA and FBI agents captured Abu Zubaydah, mistakenly believed to be number three in the al Qaeda hierarchy. Frantic to thwart a much-feared second attack, the U.S. rendered him to a hastily constructed black site in Thailand. There he collided with Air Force psychologist James Mitchell. Believing Abu Zubaydah had been trained to resist interrogation, Mitchell and others were authorized to use enhanced techniques, including water boarding, that would have violated the Geneva Conventions, international rules and treaties, and U.S. law had government lawyers not rewritten the human rights rulebook. The program metastasized over seven years, encompassing dozens of prisoners and multiple black sites. Ultimately, the U.S. Senate judged it was torture. As a result, numerous prisoners remain in Guantanamo, never charged with a crime because their trial would reveal the brutality they experienced. Based on four years of intensive reporting around the world, on multiple interviews with key protagonists who speak candidly for the first time, and on thousands of previously classified documents recently released by FOIA requests, The Forever Prisoner is a powerful chronicle of a shocking government initiative that continues to influence policy to this day, and remains an existential threat to the CIA. Scott-Clark and Levy recount dramatic scenes inside black sites and lawyers’ offices through the eyes of those who were there and trace the twisted legal arguments to justify the program, extending to the highest echelons of government, which in the end produced zero high-value intelligence. Instead, it encouraged retaliation by terrorists abroad. A primary source for the feature-length documentary of the same title by Alex Gibney to appear on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, The Forever Prisoner is as dramatic in the telling as it is consequential in its impact.


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A monumental feat of investigative reporting on a subject of vital national interest and importance today: the first full and comprehensive account of the most divisive clandestine operation in living memory—America’s torture program known as “enhanced interrogation,” instituted by the CIA following 9/11 Six months after 9/11, CIA and FBI agents captured Abu Zubaydah, mista A monumental feat of investigative reporting on a subject of vital national interest and importance today: the first full and comprehensive account of the most divisive clandestine operation in living memory—America’s torture program known as “enhanced interrogation,” instituted by the CIA following 9/11 Six months after 9/11, CIA and FBI agents captured Abu Zubaydah, mistakenly believed to be number three in the al Qaeda hierarchy. Frantic to thwart a much-feared second attack, the U.S. rendered him to a hastily constructed black site in Thailand. There he collided with Air Force psychologist James Mitchell. Believing Abu Zubaydah had been trained to resist interrogation, Mitchell and others were authorized to use enhanced techniques, including water boarding, that would have violated the Geneva Conventions, international rules and treaties, and U.S. law had government lawyers not rewritten the human rights rulebook. The program metastasized over seven years, encompassing dozens of prisoners and multiple black sites. Ultimately, the U.S. Senate judged it was torture. As a result, numerous prisoners remain in Guantanamo, never charged with a crime because their trial would reveal the brutality they experienced. Based on four years of intensive reporting around the world, on multiple interviews with key protagonists who speak candidly for the first time, and on thousands of previously classified documents recently released by FOIA requests, The Forever Prisoner is a powerful chronicle of a shocking government initiative that continues to influence policy to this day, and remains an existential threat to the CIA. Scott-Clark and Levy recount dramatic scenes inside black sites and lawyers’ offices through the eyes of those who were there and trace the twisted legal arguments to justify the program, extending to the highest echelons of government, which in the end produced zero high-value intelligence. Instead, it encouraged retaliation by terrorists abroad. A primary source for the feature-length documentary of the same title by Alex Gibney to appear on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, The Forever Prisoner is as dramatic in the telling as it is consequential in its impact.

30 review for The Forever Prisoner: The Full and Searing Account of the CIA’s Most Controversial Covert Program

  1. 5 out of 5

    Read-n-Bloom

    This book is hard to review. It’s written well, but not the kind of book for me, I guess is what I’m trying to say. It’s full of a lot communication I’m not really familiar with, but I did understand. It’s a disturbing one for me because I don’t like to think this happened. I believe our government, at the time, especially after 9/11, wanted to capture whomever did this horrible thing to innocent Americans. And they got carried away with how they did it and how they found information on who did This book is hard to review. It’s written well, but not the kind of book for me, I guess is what I’m trying to say. It’s full of a lot communication I’m not really familiar with, but I did understand. It’s a disturbing one for me because I don’t like to think this happened. I believe our government, at the time, especially after 9/11, wanted to capture whomever did this horrible thing to innocent Americans. And they got carried away with how they did it and how they found information on who did it. And it led to these happenings in this book, if this is true. I always when I read a book try to realize this is someone’s writing of how things happened, in their view, but it’s very well researched and there’s a ton of information on it and they even interviewed a lot of parties that were involved in the interrogation process of this detainee and other detainees. So it seems on the up and up. This was a hard book to read and process. And many things done that I don’t agree with. I know war is complicated and many things happen in interrogating prisoners, but our country and other countries are against torture. We don’t want our soldiers tortured. We hate it. And we must do what’s right, I believe. Thank you to #NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read and review #TheForeverPrisoner with my own thoughts and opinions.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Vikki Bullock

    I struggled with the content and detail of this book, we all know bad things happen, to people and by people! The reality of 9/11 and the consequences that followed are confronting. I know that dealing with harsh realities would be and is extremely difficult, I also understand that it’s impossible to find the truth as some people are not able to give it, or won’t. A difficult topic researched and dealt with in a straight forward manner, well done to the author! My thanks to the publisher, NetGalle I struggled with the content and detail of this book, we all know bad things happen, to people and by people! The reality of 9/11 and the consequences that followed are confronting. I know that dealing with harsh realities would be and is extremely difficult, I also understand that it’s impossible to find the truth as some people are not able to give it, or won’t. A difficult topic researched and dealt with in a straight forward manner, well done to the author! My thanks to the publisher, NetGalley and the author for the opportunity to read and review this book. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alexis

    This is a little bit of a slog, as it's very detailed. However, it was an important and disturbing read into the US' use of torture after 9/11 and how it was justified both by the CIA and the highest echelons of the Bush administration. The level of detail may be excessive at points, making it a little harder than necessary to keep the story going, but the details about how the US waterboarded Abu Zubaydah far in excess of any guidelines and then justified it anyway are necessary to know and pub This is a little bit of a slog, as it's very detailed. However, it was an important and disturbing read into the US' use of torture after 9/11 and how it was justified both by the CIA and the highest echelons of the Bush administration. The level of detail may be excessive at points, making it a little harder than necessary to keep the story going, but the details about how the US waterboarded Abu Zubaydah far in excess of any guidelines and then justified it anyway are necessary to know and publicize. The CIA and its contractors tortured and nearly killed Abu Zubaydah, claiming that it was necessary to prevent future al-Qaeda attacks. Not only was this not justifiable in itself (torture is banned), it was for nothing: Abu Zubaydah was not who they thought he was. And yet, Zubaydah remains in Guantanamo after 20 years of imprisonment, permanently damaged physically and mentally, because letting him out would mean he could talk about what the US did to him. He will never be let out, not because of his crimes, but because of ours.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Camille

    Incredible...a must read....you will never think of the War on Terror the same again.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Michael Rodriguez

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey

  7. 5 out of 5

    Amy

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mohamed Farah

  9. 4 out of 5

    Adam

  10. 4 out of 5

    Brian Carroll

  11. 4 out of 5

    Claire

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kendra

  13. 5 out of 5

    John

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dave

  15. 4 out of 5

    hami

  16. 4 out of 5

    Åħ ÄĐ

  17. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Bishop

  18. 4 out of 5

    Corey

  19. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa Hunziker

  20. 4 out of 5

    Devi

  21. 5 out of 5

    Elisa Elias

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sun

  23. 4 out of 5

    John Ormando

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jessy

  25. 5 out of 5

    Matt Johnson

  26. 5 out of 5

    Leigh Williams

  27. 4 out of 5

    Temple

  28. 4 out of 5

    Aspenleaf

  29. 4 out of 5

    Scott

  30. 4 out of 5

    Grove Atlantic

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