"Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA
Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives"
by Jose A. Rodriguez Jr. with Bill Harlow;
Threshold Editions ($27)
"The Art of Intelligence: Lessons From a
Life in the CIA's Clandestine Service"
by Henry A. Crumpton;
The Penguin Press ($27.95)
By Ken Dilanian
Los Angeles Times (MCT)
When the United States contemplated how to respond to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, its leaders turned to the Central Intelligence Agency.
With remarkable suddenness, an intelligence service that had been tightly leashed after a series of scandals was asked to do things that, just weeks before, would have been unthinkable. CIA officers went into Afghanistan with trunkloads of cash, directed a massive American bombing campaign in support of rebel fighters and routed al-Qaida and the Taliban. The agency began capturing al-Qaida figures, holding them in secret prisons, and questioning them with coercive techniques that some critics call torture. Those who could not be captured, the CIA killed, often with a new aerial weapon, an unmanned drone armed with aptly named Hellfire missiles.
A decade later, polls show most Americans have grown comfortable with the bombing and the drones, which President Obama has continued. The harsh interrogation — which Obama ended — is an enduring source of bitter controversy.
Against that backdrop come two memoirs by veteran CIA covert operatives who were key players in the agency's war on al-Qaida. And it's the one defending brutal interrogations that makes for a more compelling read.