A Sorry Rendition
The Reluctant Spy:
My Secret Life in the CIA's War on Terror
by John Kiriakou and Michael Ruby
$26.00 List Price
His name may not ring a bell, but John Kiriakou was the CIA guy who surfaced on television during the furor over waterboarding to declare that, sure, it was torture, but it worked like magic on Al Qaeda kingpin Abu Zubaydah. According to Kiriakou, a long-time veteran of the agency's intelligence-analysis and operations directorates, Abu Zubaydah cracked after only one application of the face cloth and water. "From that day on, he answered every question," Kiriakou told ABC-TV's Brian Ross in an exclusive interview on December 10, 2007. "The threat information he provided disrupted a number of attacks, maybe dozens of attacks."
Having said that, the operative claimed that he, like a lot of ordinary folks, was having second thoughts about waterboarding. "I'm involved in this internal, intellectual battle with myself weighing the idea that waterboarding may be torture versus the quality of information that we often get after using the waterboarding technique. And I struggle with it."
Struggle, shmuggle. ABC's headline may have been "Coming in from the Cold: CIA Spy Calls Waterboarding Necessary but Torture," but nobody cared about Kiriakou's second thoughts. News accounts called him "the primary source for the idea that waterboarding works." Armchair Torquemadas like Rush Limbaugh and the scholars of the Heritage Foundation, who had featured the cast of Fox's counterterror drama 24 in a panel discussion on torture, now had a real-life action figure to justify putting the screws to detainees. Not only that. Kiriakou presented liberal torture apologists with a kind of role