In a darkened room sits a man whom the American government says is a senior al Qaeda official. His interrogator, a long-serving CIA agent named Glenn Carle, thinks the man is far from a terrorist mastermind, but a bewildered halfwit. Carle's handlers tell him the man's silence proves he knows something, and insist "enhanced interrogation techniques" – many would say torture – will produce answers. Carle demurs, but is ignored, and his prisoner, while never entering a courtroom, will spend the next seven years in a secret jail far from American shores before his quiet release.
These are the bare facts of Carle's book, The Interrogator, which in the year since its publication has destroyed his life. It has caused outrage everywhere except America, where it has been smothered by what he claims is an insidious whispering campaign by friends of former American vice-president Dick Cheney. "Every word," he says, intensely. "Every f-----g word is true."
They called his publisher, he says, asking them to pulp his book; they rang every major network to prevent him going on air. They are, he says several times, "vicious" and have perpetrated a stain on America's national character.
And so Carle has begun to travel. He has been well received in Germany, Australia, Canada; he has come to New Zealand because the Star-Times wanted to interview him and he wanted to go hiking. Over lunch, he says: "They realised they could not keep me from every interview everywhere, so their strategy is to keep me from the major networks, then it doesn't matter if I talk to some guy in Auckland, or some guy in Butte, Montana, for a radio station that reaches 500 shepherds, for `if we keep him off the major networks, then he does not exist'."
For those who listen, he has an amazing tale of how the War on Terror warped America's foreign policy and tested their laws and morals. Carle is bitter about the neocons, the new American right, who redefined what was acceptable, legally and morally, in these uncertain times.