Debriefing the President: The Interrogation of Saddam Hussein

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In December 2003, after one of the largest, most aggressive manhunts in history, US military forces captured Iraqi president Saddam Hussein near his hometown of Tikrit. Beset by body-double rumors and false alarms during a nine-month search, the Bush administration needed positive identification of the prisoner before it could make the announcement that would rocket around the world.
            At the time, John Nixon was a senior CIA leadership analyst who had spent years studying the Iraqi dictator. Called upon to make the official ID, Nixon looked for telltale scars and tribal tattoos and asked Hussein a list of questions only he could answer. The man was indeed Saddam Hussein, but as Nixon learned in the ensuing weeks, both he and America had greatly misunderstood just who Saddam Hussein really was.
            Debriefing the President presents an astounding, candid portrait of one of our era’s most notorious strongmen. Nixon, the first man to conduct a prolonged interrogation of Hussein after his capture, offers expert insight into the history and mind of America’s most enigmatic enemy. After years of parsing Hussein’s leadership from afar, Nixon faithfully recounts his debriefing sessions and subsequently strips away the mythology surrounding an equally brutal and complex man. His account is not an apology, but a sobering examination of how preconceived ideas led Washington policymakers—and the Bush White House—astray. Unflinching and unprecedented, Debriefing the President exposes a fundamental misreading of one of the modern world’s most central figures and presents a new narrative that boldly counters the received account.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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About the author

John Nixon was a senior leadership analyst with the CIA from 1998 to 2011. He did several tours in Iraq and was recognized by a number of federal agencies for his contribution to the war effort. During his time with the CIA, Nixon regularly wrote for, and briefed, the most senior levels of the US government.  He also taught leadership analysis to the new generation of analysts coming into the CIA at the Sherman Kent School, the Agency’s in-house analytic training center. Since leaving the Agency in 2011, Nixon has worked as an international risk consultant in Abu Dhabi, UAE.  He lives in Alexandria, Virginia. This is his first book.


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Additional Information

Publisher
Penguin
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Published on
Dec 27, 2016
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Pages
272
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ISBN
9780399575822
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Military / Iraq War (2003-2011)
Political Science / Intelligence & Espionage
Political Science / Security (National & International)
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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In the dark days immediately after 9/11, the CIA turned to Dr. James Mitchell to help craft an interrogation program designed to elicit intelligence from just-captured top al-Qa'ida leaders and terror suspects.  

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 "enhanced interrogation techniques"--which included waterboarding.

In Enhanced Interrogation, Mitchell now offers a first-person account of the EIT program, providing a contribution to our historical understanding of one of the most controversial elements of America's ongoing war on terror.  Readers will follow him inside the secretive "black sites" and cells of terrorists and terror suspects where he personally applied enhanced interrogation techniques.

Mitchell personally 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--obtaining information that he maintains remains essential to winning the war against al-Qa'ida and informing our strategy to defeat ISIS and all of radical Islam.

From the interrogation program's earliest moments to its darkest hours, Mitchell also lifts the curtain on its immediate effects, the controversy surrounding its methods, and its downfall. He shares his view that EIT, when applied correctly, were useful in drawing detainees to cooperate, and that, when applied incorrectly, they were counter-productive.  He also chronicles 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.

Gripping in its detail and deeply illuminating, Enhanced Interrogation argues that it is necessary for America to take strong measures to defend itself from its enemies and that the country is less safe now without them than it was before 9/11.
WINNER OF THE 2016 PULITZER PRIZE FOR GENERAL NONFICTION

“A Best Book of 2015”—The New York Times, The Washington Post, People Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, Kansas City Star, and Kirkus Reviews

In a thrilling dramatic narrative, awarded the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, Joby Warrick traces how the strain of militant Islam behind ISIS first arose in a remote Jordanian prison and spread with the unwitting aid of two American presidents.
 
   When the government of Jordan granted amnesty to a group of political prisoners in 1999, it little realized that among them was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a terrorist mastermind and soon the architect of an Islamist movement bent on dominating the Middle East. In Black Flags, an unprecedented character-driven account of the rise of ISIS, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Joby Warrick shows how the zeal of this one man and the strategic mistakes of Presidents Bush and Obama led to the banner of ISIS being raised over huge swaths of Syria and Iraq.
   Zarqawi began by directing terror attacks from a base in northern Iraq, but it was the American invasion in 2003 that catapulted him to the head of a vast insurgency. By falsely identifying him as the link between Saddam and bin Laden, U.S. officials inadvertently spurred like-minded radicals to rally to his cause. Their wave of brutal beheadings and suicide bombings persisted until American and Jordanian intelligence discovered clues that led to a lethal airstrike on Zarqawi’s hideout in 2006.
   His movement, however, endured. First calling themselves al-Qaeda in Iraq, then Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, his followers sought refuge in unstable, ungoverned pockets on the Iraq-Syria border. When the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011, and as the U.S. largely stood by, ISIS seized its chance to pursue Zarqawi’s dream of an ultra-conservative Islamic caliphate.
   Drawing on unique high-level access to CIA and Jordanian sources, Warrick weaves gripping, moment-by-moment operational details with the perspectives of diplomats and spies, generals and heads of state, many of whom foresaw a menace worse than al Qaeda and tried desperately to stop it. Black Flags is a brilliant and definitive history that reveals the long arc of today’s most dangerous extremist threat.


From the Hardcover edition.
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