Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Interrogators, by Chris Mackey

The Interrogators by Chris Mackey and Greg Miller is a first person account of Army interrogators just after September 11. The book is written from Army Reserve Sergeant Mackey's perspective and through his eyes we learn about some of the training interrogators go through and then their experience in Afghanistan. Mackey discusses the various interrogation methods used by the Army and how strictly they stayed to the Geneva Conventions even though President Bush declared the Conventions did not apply.

Mackey served his year in Afghanistan from the start of that war and he notes in the book what was not permissible when they began the war was acceptable when his war ended and he notes in the epilogue how he views the slippery slope from the mild forms of interrogation his unit engaged in could become Abu Grahib years later. The methods Mackey viewed as the last resort became the starting point for the interrogators who came after.

The Interrogators is not simply a narrative of Mackey's career. It focuses as much or more so on the other interrogators in the unit and the men and women Mackey led in interrogation. He discusses technique and what sort of resistance they faced from prisoners and how advanced some of the resistance techniques were.

This is an engrossing book and at times I wondered if he should be sharing all of this, but I imagine most of the reading public will not be interrogated by the Army and even knowing the game that is being run does not make one immune to it.

Either way, The Interrogators is an excellent book about Army interrogation and while it cannot dispel the image of the brutal interrogation tactics Iraq has been known for, it does show a different side of interrogation...not a kinder, softer side, but one which has respect for the law and for the Geneva Conventions. It also shows the stress and the exhaustion interrogators put themselves through.

Worth reading?


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