The Black Banners (Declassified): How Torture Derailed the War on Terror after 9/11 (Paperback)
The definitive account of an FBI special agent’s al-Qaeda story, unredacted for the first time.
Widely heralded on publication as a "must-read" (Military Review) and "important window on America’s battle with al-Qaeda" (Washington Post), Ali Soufan’s revelatory account of the war on terror as seen from its front lines changed the way we understand al-Qaeda and how the United States prosecuted the war—and led to hard questions being asked of our leaders.
When The Black Banners was published in 2011, significant portions of the text were redacted. After subsequent review by the Central Intelligence Agency, those redactions have been lifted. Their removal corrects the record on how vital intelligence was obtained from al-Qaeda suspects and brings forth important new details on the controversial use of enhanced interrogation techniques (torture) to extract information from terror suspects. For many years, proponents of the use of these techniques have argued that they produced actionable intelligence in the war on terror. This edition of The Black Banners explodes this myth; it shows Soufan at work using guile and intelligent questioning—not force or violence—to extract some of the most important confessions in the war, and it vividly recounts the failures of the government’s torture program. Drawing on Soufan’s experiences as a lead operative for the FBI and declassified government records, The Black Banners (Declassified) documents the intelligence failures that lead to the tragic attacks on New York and Washington, DC, and subsequently how torture derailed the fight against al-Qaeda. With this edition, eighteen years on from the first sanctioned enhanced interrogation technique, the public can finally read the complete story of what happened in their name after the events of 9/11.
The Black Banners (Declassified) includes a new foreword from Ali Soufan that addresses the significance of the CIA’s decision to lift the redactions.
— Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11
Paints a devastating picture of rivalry and dysfunction inside the government’s counterterrorism agencies…The account offered by the agent, Ali H. Soufan is the most detailed to date by an insider.
— Scott Shane - New York Times
One of the most valuable and detailed accounts of its subject to appear in the past decade.
Soufan knows exactly what he is talking about, and does us all a service by having it set down in The Black Banners.
— Glenn L. Carle - Foreign Policy
Superb. An education. And the best book on al-Qaeda out there, bar none.
— Robert Baer