Most Americans first heard of FBI agent Ali H. Soufan in the spring of 2009. That’s when he testified from behind a black curtain in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing room and said that the Bush administration’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” not only didn’t work, but were “harmful to our efforts to defeat al-Qaeda.”
The testimony was explosive. Here was a man on the front lines of the battle against al-Qaeda, announcing that the CIA’s brutal interrogations were “ineffective, slow and unreliable.”
Now Soufan has fired another salvo, in a memoir titled “The Black Banners.” The book goes behind the scenes of some of the most important terrorism interrogations since 9/11, and it paints a devastating picture of the rivalry between the FBI and the CIA’s counterterrorism units.
Soufan, a fluent Arabic speaker, was the bureau’s go-to interrogator. He used the FBI’s traditional interrogation techniques — especially building rapport with the subject — to get actionable intelligence. And the book lays out, in exquisite detail, exactly how that happens.