In a narrative that reads like a spy thriller, Chris Mackey takes us inside a small team of American military interrogators confronting an enemy unlike any other they had ever seen-in a war not of missiles and tanks, but of sleeper cells and suicide bombers.
Mackey reveals how his team managed to crack some of the hardest cases, using highly sophisticated ruses and elaborate trickery to bluff, worry, and confuse their opponents into yielding precious information.
He tells as well of mistakes made: blown interrogations, abuses against prisoners, and failures of American intelligence. The Interrogators is an engrossing memoir that lifts the curtain for the first time on the hidden backstage of America's war on terrorism.
This fascinating memoir reports from one of the most crucial and controversial fronts in the war on terror. The pseudonymous Mackey was an interrogator at military prisons in Afghanistan, tasked with sussing out the secrets of suspected Taliban and al-Qaeda members. He and journalist Miller take readers inside the prison cells and interrogation rooms, where interrogators choreograph elaborate mind games and fight epic battles of will with their often formidable captives. Their account's full of the engrossing lore and procedure of interrogation, the thrust and parry of baited queries and cagey half-truths, and the occasional dramatic breakthrough when a prisoner cracks. But it also reveals the squalor and drudgery of the prison camps, the exhaustion, bad temper and frequent ineptitude of the interrogators and the many lapses in the American intelligence effort, especially by the CIA, which Mackey regards as an arrogant, secretive and incompetent organization. Mackey deplores the Abu Ghraib abuses and insists that his unit never violated the Geneva Conventions. They flirted, he acknowledges, with stress positions and sleep deprivation, but this was nothing, he claims, beyond what army recruits and the interrogators themselves routinely endured; their main weapons seem to have been veiled threats to return Arab prisoners to their homelands, where they would face real torture. The book, which was vetted by the Pentagon, will not settle the questions surrounding American treatment of prisoners in Iraq and elsewhere. But it does give a vivid, gritty look at the pressures and compromises attendant on this unconventional war.
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
Little, Brown and Company
May 11, 2005
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from The Interrogators by Greg Miller
Most students slipped quite naturally out of their school uniforms at Immaculate High School in Danbury, Connecticut, and into the country's better universities. I slipped out of my uniform and into army fatigues. I was seventeen when I enlisted in 1989, and it came as a surprise to all of my friends but one, Sean McGinty, who enlisted with me. We suffered from a debilitating condition: too many siblings. Our working-class parents--my father was a telephone line repairman, McGinty's an accountant--had made it clear some time earlier that we were going to have to pay our own way through college. And so we decided to enlist together, jokingly trying to be the first to complete the army oath so as to be "senior" to the other in our new military lives. McGinty skipped a phrase or two, arriving at the "so help me God" line first. I would argue for years that he had invalidated his oath by jumping ahead, but that was a debate I would never win.
Originally we thought the infantry would be good. The army brochures made it all look fairly glamorous, with lots of pictures of armored personnel carriers rolling through German landscapes and Teutonic villagers smiling at passing Americans. But my father had been an artilleryman who was called up from the Connecticut National Guard during Korea, and he wanted me to pursue a military field far away from cannons and endless gunnery drills. The Saturday morning after McGinty and I signed up, I found myself waiting in a parking lot with my father, while a parade of distinctly unmilitary people walked into a vaguely industrial-looking building surrounded by a chain-link fence. A yellow fifties hot rod pulled into the lot and a tall man stepped out and stooped to pick up a knapsack from the rumble seat. My father, taller still, stretched out his big hand and the two men smiled at each other and exchanged greetings. "So this is your boy," the man said, pausing to conduct a quick inspection. I was inspecting him, too. He sported an outrageous pompadour haircut that looked about as military as a ponytail. His wrinkled battle dress uniform was practically white with wear. An absurd unit patch on his shoulder depicted a pilgrim with a blunderbuss.
The first few minutes reinforced every stereotype about the reserves and national guard. The man, First Sergeant Staib, excused himself to tend to the business of his office, which appeared to consist of drinking Dunkin' Donuts coffee and kidding around with his colleagues. My father and I stood in the vestibule looking at plaques honoring Soldier of the Year for 1975 and the winning platoon in the 1969 handball competition. Only the posters exhorting soldiers to "protect classified documents" and "Beware the Bear" indicated there might be something here of interest. All the while, overweight soldiers with gray hair and outdated uniforms pushed by to join a gaggle in the center of a gymlike open area.
After his doughnut, Staib came out of the adjoining office, stood at the top of the open area, and bellowed, "Fall in!" His Hollywood-quality command voice startled me. The resulting movement wasn't exactly a scramble, more of a high-speed shuffling, but the suddenness of the soldiers' motion, and their final arrangement in neat little squares of troops, was more than a little impressive. Suddenly Staib's uniform didn't look so wrinkled after all.
After the formation, Staib brought my father and me into an office. The unit's commander was there, a Major Gregoire, and a very old female officer who looked so much like a nun I nearly called her "sister." They asked me if I knew what the unit did, and I said something like "only that you are linguists." They smiled and said that was more or less correct, but that there was more to the story. In fact, they were an interrogation unit, responsible for questioning prisoners of war, refugees, border crossers, and other sources of intelligence information. Interrogators, I thought.
After a chat with Staib, the commander, and the nun, I was taken around the dirty facility and introduced to the various groups. Sizing them up, I was a little concerned that they were the grown-up versions of the nerds and dweebs I had tried so hard to steer clear of in school--maybe a little conscious that I was too close to them on the social ladder for comfort. The last thing we did was sit in on a practice interrogation. A large group of reservists stood or sat around a little wooden table. A man about thirty with a very big nose and mustache sat in one chair, while a slightly older, balding man sat opposite. Sitting behind the big-nosed man was a particularly old fellow with white hair, glasses, and a crooked front tooth. If there had been a few banjos, it might have been a scene from a Louisiana bayou.