Black Site: The CIA in the Post-9/11 World

Liveright: Norton . Jul. 2019. 256p. index. ISBN 9781631491979. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781631491986. POL SCI
Mudd (former deputy director, CIA Counterterrorist Ctr.) strives to re-create the tense and uncertain environment faced by CIA counterterrorism personnel following 9/11 in order to demonstrate the complex nature of the mission and decisions that surrounded what was termed the Program. Simply put, the Program describes the rendition, detainment, and interrogation of hundreds of al-Qaeda prisoners in secret "black sites" around the world with the purpose of extracting intelligence to prevent further terrorist attacks. Throughout, the matter-of-fact approach of CIA personnel responding to the new counterterrorism mandate is as clear as the urgency. Though some individuals had visceral reactions to the program and its techniques early on, most personnel interviewed were unapologetic and communicated the belief that they did what was necessary for the mission. Mudd begins with a glance back to the last days of the Cold War and CIA culture prior to 9/11, then follows the program through the initial response to 9/11 and its development over the years. Mudd describes some of the enhanced interrogation techniques and the surrounding controversy but also highlights CIA interest in legal authority and discipline.
VERDICT Recommended as an inside look into an unsavory yet complex period of American political history.

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