Imagine working for the CIA for 23 years, spending some of that time interrogating suspected terrorists using methods that might be illegal. When the time comes to share your personal experiences, your former employer chooses to use its power to block your freedom of expression. This is exactly what happened to Glenn Carle, whose book “The Interrogator” was published in June of this year — only after heavy meddling by the CIA. Carle’s memoir was published with heavy black bars through extensive passages of the tome to show where the CIA had demanded omissions — even for information that was common knowledge. The CIA took over complete control of how it was portrayed in another human being’s story.
These invasions were committed in an effort to prevent readers from perceiving a text published by a CIA veteran as being a confirmation by the CIA of anything the agency wanted to remain secretive about, including the emotional effects of its tactics. If that sounds convoluted, so is the reasoning behind it. Salon.com reports on the CIA’s logic in violating this individual’s legal rights:
…Carle complained when the [CIA] insisted on cutting information from his book that was already common knowledge. Two reasons are offered for such demands. One is the “mosaic theory of classification,” characterized by Carle as “one of the most harmful consequences of eight years of the Bush administration. And that is not a partisan statement.” […]
The mosaic theory alleges that pieces of information that may seem innocuous enough on their own — including material that has already been cleared by the CIA — can, when combined with similar pieces of information, present a potential threat that might be of use to the enemy. “By that rationale,” Carle observed, “you should take every chemistry textbook out of every high school in America.” […]
The other justification the agency commonly offers for redacting material is that some facts, although widely known, have not been officially acknowledged by the agency or the U.S. government. If the CIA were to approve a book stating those facts, it would supposedly amount to an acknowledgment.
The CIA has also been in the news recently for interfering with the publication of a book by former FBI agent Ali Soufan, which is highly critical of “[the CIA’s] use of brutal interrogation techniques in the decade since 9/11,” also according to Salon. The CIA appears to want unlimited power to prevent eye witnesses from sharing their accounts of the agency’s perhaps unethical practices — methods justified by the war on terror.