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Former CIA officer shares stories of torture, career

Courtesy of the CIA

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For Ohio State students, torture isn’t a problem faced in daily life. But for a former CIA case officer, the question of torture defines him.

Glenn Carle, a former case officer for the CIA, shared his stories of torture and interrogating when he visited the Mershon Center Thursday to discuss his book, “The Interrogator: An Education.”

The book contains a real-life account of an interrogation he performed on a top al-Qaida member the CIA captured.

Carle talked about his struggle with his order to do “whatever it takes to get him to talk.” This led into the topic of torture.

“It’s definitely something that’s an ethical concern that we consider abstract,” said Norit Admasu, a second-year in psychology. “For us, torture is not a factor in life, but it makes it real to hear it from someone who it is a factor for.”

Upon receiving his order, Carle questioned the idea and said, “We don’t do that.” The reply from his ranking officer was, “We do now.”

Carle said he wanted the audience to view his story as a challenge to think about what they would do in such a situation.

“I am convinced that if you were in my shoes, you would have reacted as I did,” he said,

As part of his CIA training, Carle had been tortured and in turn, learned tactics to resist it if he were to be captured.

Remembering what he went through, Carle told himself he wouldn’t do anything physical to his detainee.

Carle provided a definition of torture as having to be lasting and severe in order for it to be effective, but said he didn’t agree with that definition.

“Torture methods break you down but don’t induce you to cooperate,” he said.

As Carle was not allowed to release the name of his detainee, he referred to him as Captus, which means “captive” in Latin.

Upon his initial assessment of Captus, he felt that Captus was answering truthfully 90 percent of the time and didn’t know the answers the other 10 percent of the time.

But according to the CIA, absence of response equaled guilt, and they told Carle to pressure Captus more.

Not feeling that Carle had gotten them the information they wanted, the CIA sent Captus to “Hotel California,” which is the code name Carle gave the most intense interrogation center the CIA had.

Carle explained the two types of interrogation methods used at “Hotel California” – standard and enhanced.

Standard interrogation consisted of playing on the senses with dark rooms, loud music, starvation and humiliation.

If standard interrogation failed, the next step was enhanced, which was more psychical.

Carle made it clear that they didn’t do things like pull finger nails out.

During this interrogation process at “Hotel California,” Carle questioned himself.

“What had I become, what had my country become?” he said.

After many interviews with Captus, Carle realized they had the wrong guy and knew he had to make it right.

Carle sent telegraphs to his superiors back in the states requesting the release of Captus, only to find later that his telegraphs were never sent.

Carle described his interrogation experience as one of the most critical moments of his career and a turning point.

After Carle was sent home, he wrote his book, which goes into further detail about the interrogation.

But the CIA was very unhappy with this and it took two years for them to approve his book. The CIA finally approved a version, one that littered the pages with black-colored censor bars.

To this day, the CIA has been “destroying my character,” Carle said. They call producers and publishers who wish to discuss my book and tell them that I am a liar, Carle said.

“They have had good success in making me a non-entity,” Carle said.

Carle is unemployed and continues to travel, talking about his book and exposing a side of the CIA the public rarely hears about. He said he is working on a second book.

Carle said he heard Captus had been released in 2010, held a total of eight years.

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