Thursday, January 22, 2009

How to Break a Terrorist

I just finished reading How to Break a Terrorist by Matthew Alexander. It's one of the most important books I've ever read. I'm not sure if anyone knows how to fix the world economy in the long term, but this man might be able to fix Afghanistan if he were given free rein.

When people talk about our giving up torture, one of the first things you'll hear about is a 'ticking time bomb', a hypothetical bomb which can only be disarmed if a terrorist tells you how - quickly. Usually the teller means this as an example of who torture cannot be ruled out, but Matthew Alexander dealt with similar situations - when abuse didn't work.

This is the story of the interrogation team which managed to help locate and kill Zarqawi. The plot hums along like a thriller, with conflicts between interrogators and prisoners, between different interrogators, and between interrogators and their superiors. In between there is time for a few light and humorous moments, and we learn a lot about both personalities and interrogation techniques.

Can we really help fix Afghanistan? This would be only the first step. New interrogation would have to lead to new nation building.

1 comment:

L. Venkata Subramaniam said...

This sounds like an interesting book. Maybe Obama can give this chap a try?