A monumental feat of investigative reporting on a subject of vital national interest and importance today: the 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 in December 2021, The Forever Prisoner is as dramatic in the telling as it is consequential in its impact.