In early 2003, Glenn Carle, an interrogator with the CIA, arrived at a secret detention facility overseas to question a recently captured Al-Qaeda suspect. The jail, whose location remains classified, was cold and dark—so dark Carle could not see his own hands—and music blared loudly all around. Inside the cell, a man lay shivering under a flimsy blanket; Carle called to him, and he looked up slowly, weary and confused, when Carle entered. When questioned, the man could manage only a rambling, incoherent reply. “He was a wreck,” Carle says.

The man’s dilapidated state of mind was the result of a systematic program of torture inflicted on terrorism suspects by the CIA after 9/11. Nudity, extreme temperatures, sleep and sensory deprivation, dietary manipulation, waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques” were meant to break down detainees’ resistance to interrogation. The stress and disorientation induced by these methods, it was believed, would force them to cooperate and release whatever precious information they were hiding. But according to Carle, this theory is wrong.

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