IN THE DARK DAYS IMMEDIATELY AFTER 9/11, the CIA turned to Dr. James Mitchell to help craft an interrogation program that would elicit intelligence from just-captured top al-Qa’ida leaders. A civilian contractor who had spent years training U.S. military members to resist interrogation should they be captured, Mitchell, aware of the urgent need to prevent impending catastrophic attacks, worked with the CIA to implement the now-famous “enhanced interrogation techniques”—which included waterboarding. Now, for the first time, Mitchell reveals what he and the U.S. intelligence community discovered about America’s fiercest enemies.
In Enhanced Interrogation, Mitchell has crafted an extensive, revealing, and emotionally gripping account of the EIT program. Readers will follow him inside the cells of the most dangerous men on earth as he personally applied controversial techniques—techniques that critics call “torture” but that the U.S. government and Mitchell believed were legal, necessary, and highly effective. Mitchell questioned thirteen of the most senior high-value detainees in U.S. custody, including Abu Zubaydah; Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the amir or “commander” of the USS Cole bombing; and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind behind the September 11, 2001, terror attacks. After spending thousands of hours with these terrorists, he learned not only about the plans and intentions of al-Qa’ida but also about what makes mass-murdering Islamists tick.
Drawing on what he discovered by spending weeks, months, even years with these men, Mitchell expresses a deep insight into the terrorists’ true motives and passion for attacking Americans and killing innocent victims around the world—information that is still essential to winning the war against al-Qa’idaand informing our strategy to defeat ISIS and all of radical Islam.
From the interrogation program’s heroic moments to its darkest hours, Mitchell also lifts the curtain on its immediate effects, the controversy surrounding its methods, and its downfall. He addresses how useful the techniques were at drawing detainees to cooperate, and how, when applied incorrectly, they were counter-productive. He also shares what it is like to undertake a several-years-long critical mission at the request of the government only to be hounded for nearly a decade afterward by congressional investigations and Justice Department prosecutors who found fault with the Bush administration’s decisions.
Deeply stirring and important, Enhanced Interrogation brings into new light the necessity to take strong measures in order to defend America from its enemies and why the country is less safe now without them than it was before 9/11.
DR. JAMES E. MITCHELL served as an interrogator for the CIA from August 2002 through January 2009. He was involved in the development of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program and was one of their interrogators from its inception until President Barack Obama shut it down by executive order on January 22, 2009. He interrogated fourteen of the most senior so-called high-value detainees in U.S. custody, including Abu Zubaydah; Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the amir, or “commander,” of the USS Cole bombing; Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), the mastermind behind the September 11, 2001, terror attacks; Hambali, the Bali bomber; and Abu Faraj al-Libbi, the man who took over for KSM as the leader of terrorist attacks against the United States for al-Qa’ida, to name a few.
Dr. Mitchell served twenty-two years in the U.S. Air Force and retired as a lieutenant colonel including seven years at the USAF Survival School in Spokane, Washington.
In addition to his experiences as an interrogator, Dr. Mitchell is a law enforcement trained hostage negotiator and served on a hostage negotiation team. He has also consulted with military counterterrorist units, and the FBI, NSA, and CIA on divergent topics, including psychologically profiling war criminals, predicting violence, psychologically profiling and influencing foreign assets, surviving hostage situations, selection of individuals for high-risk missions, and handling hostages wired into improvised explosive devices during rescue.
Dr. Mitchell has a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of South Florida. He received his BS and master’s in psychology from the University of Alaska, Anchorage.
BILL HARLOW is a writer, consultant, and public relations specialist with more than thirty years of experience. He spent seven years as the top spokesman for the CIA and four years at the White House handling national security media matters for two presidents. He has coauthored three New York Times bestsellers on intelligence.
“No one has heard from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed since the 9/11 attacks, but James Mitchell has spent countless hours with the terror mastermind at the CIA’s black sites. In this gripping book, Mitchell reveals for the first time, in chilling detail, what KSM and other senior terrorist commanders told him. If you want to under- stand what drives the Islamic radicals seeking to destroy America—and what they say we must do if we want to stop them—you simply must read this book.”
—MARC THIESSEN, WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST AND BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF COURTING DISASTER: HOW THE CIA KEPT AMERICA SAFE AND HOW BARACK OBAMA IS INVITING THE NEXT ATTACK
“Finally, we learn the true story about what ‘enhanced interrogation’ is, how it works, and how it protected America after the devastating attack of 9/11. The country owes a profound debt of gratitude to James Mitchell, who spent thou- sands of hours at CIA ‘black sites’ learning the secrets of men like Abu Zubay- dah, Abd al-Nashiri, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, as he and his dedicated col- leagues scrambled to stop more deadly attacks on our nation.”
—DEBRA BURLINGAME, COFOUNDER OF 9/11 FAMILIES FOR A SAFE & STRONG AMERICA AND KEEP AMERICA SAFE
“Emotions are high and accusations are being thrown about, but facts matter. Before anyone rushes to judgment, they should read this book and take in what happened through the eyes of a key player in the CIA’s interrogation program.”
—GENERAL MICHAEL HAYDEN, USAF, RET., FORMER CIA DIRECTOR
“The authentic account of head-to-head hardball with fanatical Islamic killers by a professional who not only won big for America, but did it while fending off pow- erful critics. The lessons learned needed to be told—and well-told they are. The war on us by radical Islamists is far from over—read and learn!”
—HON. PORTER J. GOSS FORMER CHAIRMAN OF HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE AND CIA DIRECTOR