Scott Horton: Glenn Carle’s “CAPTUS” Is Pacha Wazir

As we’ve noted a couple times at EW, I will be hosting Glenn Carle to discuss his book, The Interrogator, at Saturday’s FDL Book Salon. As you no doubt know, his book describes his interrogation of what was described as a high level al Qaeda figure (the detainee wasn’t) and his objections to the government’s use of dislocation and other torture methods with him.

But Carle’s book doesn’t reveal the locations at which these interrogations took place, nor the detainee’s identity. So I wanted to make sure you had seen Scott Horton’s posts yesterday revealing those details.

As Horton describes, the detainee called CAPTUS in Carle’s book is actually a businessman by the name of Pacha Wazir who ran a hawala al Qaeda used.

As The Interrogator: An Education details, in the fall of 2002, Carle was the CIA case officer for a man identified as CAPTUS — but who was clearly Pacha Wazir — who had operated an informal money-changing and transfer business, known as a hawala system, that may have had customers with terrorist ties.

And the two locations described in the book are a location outside of Rabat, Morocco and Afghanistan’s Salt Pit.

As for the location of the initial rendition, the opening chapters of Carle’s book play out in an unnamed desert country where French and Arabic are spoken interchangeably, and where domestic intelligence services were holding terrorism suspects for CIA interrogation under a program a New York City Bar Association Report described as “torture by proxy.” “There is no doubt that Carle is talking about Morocco,” said John Sifton, an attorney who studied the CIA detentions program on behalf of Human Rights Watch and other organizations, and who travelled to Morocco in early 2006 to look into reports that the CIA was holding terrorism suspects there. “Most of the events described in the early chapters occurred in and around Rabat, which is where it appears the CIA detention arrangements were being carried out.”

In my interview with him, Sifton pointed to flight records from CIA aircraft used for detainee transport, which detailed several flights from Rabat to Afghanistan that matched the flight described by Carle in a chapter entitled “Methane Breathers” (a term he used to describe the CIA officers clad as ninjas who roughed up and humiliated Pacha Wazir on a Moroccan airstrip). The prisoner was then transferred to a CIA-run prison near Kabul. The description in Carle’s book perfectly matches existing accounts of the Salt Pit, a prison maintained by the CIA in an abandoned brick factory north of Kabul.

Horton has one of his “six question” interviews with Carle here. (If you haven’t already read Spencer’s interview with Carle, that’s well worth your time, too.)

In his posts, Horton also reminds readers that Wazir was first profiled in Ron Suskind’s One Percent Doctrine. Suskind describes how the CIA picked up Wazir just as he was attempting to meet with the FBI to explain his business.

The UAE’s central bank had done its job–too well. They’d gone ahead on their own and frozen Wazir’s assets. That was just the start. Wazir, seeing that his millions were frozen, called up the central bank, indignant. The head of the central bank told Wazir that he was under investigation by the FBI.

Cool customer that he was, Wazir expressed outrage. “Are there FBI agents in the country?” he asked the banker, who said, yes, right here in Dubai. “Well then, I’ll meet with them, and explain everything,” Wazir said. “I’m sure it’s just a mistake.”


The next morning, a plump Emirates financier, in his white gown, vest, kufi cap, and fastidiously trimmed beard, left his palatial home in Dubai to travel downtown for his meeting with the FBI. In his driveway, he was greeted by a team of agents from the CIA. He went without a struggle.

After rendering Wazir, Suskind explains, the CIA reopened his hawala and used it to round up al Qaeda figures who had used the facility.

I will probably do a follow-up post next week to talk about some of the secondary implications of Carle’s book (I suspect Carle will be unable to address many of these issues):

  • What does it mean that he was never able to get the documents Wazir had with him when he was rendered (which he presumably intended to use to answer the FBI’s questions)?
  • What does it mean that he was at the Salt Pit not long after the Gul Rahman death?
  • What does it mean that two cables he sent criticizing the interrogation program got disappeared?
  • What do Carle’s disclosures say about the government’s successful attempt to dismiss Wazir’s habeas corpus suit?

But in the interim, for those of you reading the book in anticipation of the Book Salon, I wanted to make sure you had seen these details.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

22 replies
  1. Jim White says:

    Thanks, Marcy. Scott’s posts (and now yours) are really helpful while reading the book.

    What does it mean that he was never able to get the documents Wazir had with him when he was rendered (which he presumably intended to use to answer the FBI’s questions)?

    I just got to this part of the book last night and my jaw dropped. Carle couldn’t get Langley to send a courier to move the papers and he wasn’t allowed to send one of his own interrogation team to retrieve them. What I find astounding is that this appears to mean that the papers were not analyzed immediately and a report prepared. Presumably, as Wazir’s interrogator, Carle would have had a “need to know” what would have been in such a report and would have been able to get it if one existed. If they thought Wazir was bin Laden’s primary terrorist banker, any papers on him should have been at least as high priority for analysis as the much-touted “treasure trove” of materials found in bin Laden’s compound when he was killed.

    The cynic’s view of this is that the papers were indeed analyzed and they provided full exoneration for Wazir. Given the gummint’s behavior in all of this, they would have responded by disappearing the report just as they did Carle’s cables suggesting Wazir was not a terrorist.

    • emptywheel says:

      The cynic’s view of this is that the papers were indeed analyzed and they provided full exoneration for Wazir. Given the gummint’s behavior in all of this, they would have responded by disappearing the report just as they did Carle’s cables suggesting Wazir was not a terrorist.

      I’m not sure it even takes a cynic.

      Also note Wazir’s offer to cooperate. They said no, but presumably that was after CIA had already infiltrated his business. At that point, having him BACK would have been superfluous to the op (though Suskind said they explained his absence to an illness, so his return could have been explained to customers, though not his family).

      All of which makes you wonder whether the interrogation was just a way to sustain the illusion that they had rendered him to make it easier to seize his business rather than for intell (though he did have intell).

  2. WilliamOckham says:

    I started reading Carle’s book a couple of days ago. I immediately realized that there was probably enough detail in the book to figure out who CAPTUS was. Yesterday, I saw Horton’s post and was thankful I didn’t have to do the work myself.

    As to your questions, I’m wondering if the CIA didn’t use the documents to reopen the hawala, thus making that a different operation from interrogating CAPTUS. The failure to cough up the documents was as likely stupid bureaucratic turf war as it was malicious.

  3. Mary says:

    From Suskind’s book, along with the CIA disappearing Wazir, they also disappeared his brother and two employees who worked for the Hawla, didn’t they?

    And all the supposed al-Qaeda operatives they captured, we know they are/were al-Qaeda operatives because…? And what happened to them?

    I think a good question is what does the CIA tell families when they disappear a child’s father?

  4. Jeff Kaye says:

    I would like to know more about Carle’s activities in Morocco. I presume he was there at the same time the Moroccans/MI5/MI6/CIA were interrogating Binyam Mohamed. Was he involved in that interrogation?

    Astoundingly, Carle misrepresents the KUBARK manual in his book. Written circa 1963, the KUBARK manual was not declassified until 1994, thanks to an investigation by the Balitmore Sun.

    Carle appears to be referring to “Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual – 1983” as also the “KUBARK” manual, conflating the two, and indeed, Carle claims he was involved in Central American “affairs” in the 1980s. That manual was also not declassified until 1994, and the Sun investigatory articles not published, i.e., made general knowledge, until 1995. For a relevant article, see Torture was taught by CIA; Declassified manual details the methods used in Honduras; Agency denials refuted, reported by Gary Cohn, Ginger Thompson, and Mark Matthews, at The Baltimore Sun, 27 January 1997.

    But then Carle writes (p. 84):

    The KUBARK manual was remembered by the public, if at all, only from the Agency’s involvement with the Contras in the mid-1980s, for a few controversial passages concerning coercive methods of interrogation.

    Actually, the section on coercive methods (torture) takes up approx. 1/3 of the KUBARK document. Furthermore, earlier in the book, Carle states that the SERE methods used for torture were the basis of the KUBARK document; for this, he is not far off, as my writings on the origins of the DDD paradigm make clear, as it derived from observations on Air Force survival school training in the mid-to-late 1950s.

    Carle continues (italics in original):

    But I was repeatedly surprised to find that KUBARK presented a remarkably accurate portrayal of a detainee’s thoughts and actions…. This was ironic, as two decades earlier, and I was beginning my career, the KUBARK manual was cited by many as proof of the Agency’s involvement in torture and human rights violations. But this misrepresented the objective of the KUBARK manual. I knew then that the Agency had worked hard to stop human rights abuses by the participants in the Sandinista-Contra war — I worked the issue specifically in my assignment to Alan Fiers, the head of our Central American Task Force — and that the KUBARK manual, for all its debatable points and faults was part of our effort to stop abuses of detainees.

    Here’s what Dana Priest wrote in 1996 about the 1983 Human Resource Exploitation Manual:

    U.S. Army intelligence manuals used to train Latin American military officers at an Army school from 1982 to 1991 advocated executions, torture, blackmail and other forms of coercion against insurgents, Pentagon documents released yesterday show. Used in courses at the U.S. Army’s School of the Americas, the manual says that to recruit and control informants, counterintelligence agents could use “fear, payment of bounties for enemy dead, beatings, false imprisonment, executions and the use of truth serum,” according to a secret Defense Department summary of the manuals compiled during a 1992 investigation of the instructional material and also released yesterday.

    As for the CIA trying to stop abuses, that’s quite laughable, as they wrote the damn torture manuals, and as the Baltimore Sun article linked above notes, the changes to the manual were not motivated from within CIA:

    The 1983 manual was altered between 1984 and early 1985 to discourage torture after a furor was raised in Congress and the press about CIA training techniques being used in Central America. Those alterations and new instructions appear in the documents obtained by The Sun, support the conclusion that methods taught in the earlier version were illegal.

    In fact, as Carle is either inept in what he writes, and then can’t be counted on, or more likely, is writing a sophisticated apologia/limited hang-out/conditional critique regarding Agency policy, which in fact admits certain “errors” while hiding the actual history of what occurs, the “Human Resource Exploitation Manual” is never even mentioned in Carle’s book. The words do not even appear.

    As for Alan Fiers… In 1991, Fiers pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of withholding information from Congress regarding secret efforts to aid the Nicaraguan Contra rebels. Fiers was reportedly a big supporter of Adolfo Calero and Enrique Bermúdez. According to Walsh, Fiers was very cooperative with the Iran-Contra investigation. Walsh wrote: “Fiers was perhaps second only to CIA Director William J. Casey in the extent of his contact with Lt. Col. Oliver L. North’s efforts to keep the contras supplied, notwithstanding the limits of Boland Amendments upon contra aid.” — Bush, Sr. pardoned Fiers.

    Carle’s book should be taken with a huge grain of salt. The fact that he is critical of the “enhanced interrogation” techniques should not blind readers to the dubious quality of his narrative.

    • Jeff Kaye says:

      I should note that Scott Horton has written to me to say that the KUBARK “discussion was only introduced to the book when the CIA’s PRB censored his description of the practices used on Pacha Wazir, which in the first instance were apparently directly described.” Hence, the KUBARK discussion was “a backdoor way to clue to the reader what techniques were used by looking at public materials that the PRB could not censor. It is in that regard that KUBARK and the Senate Armed Services Committee report were introduced–nothing more.”

      I don’t believe that is sufficient explanation for misrepresenting the KUBARK document, as he does numerous times in the book.

    • Jeff Kaye says:

      I spent part of my childhood in Scottsdale, and I can tell you from experience, that’s how some of those dust storms look. There was a fascinating portrayal of one in the Woody Guthrie biopic, “Bound for Glory”.

    • bobschacht says:

      The videos that I saw on the news were just incredible. Biblical proportions, indeed! It probably invites comparison to the “Dust Bowl” haboobs.

      It can be windy up here in Flagstaff, and in the vicinity of Meteor Crater in the spring there can be a wind tunnel that could produce a haboob. More than a year ago, there was a dust storm between Meteor Crater and Leupp exit (to the east Petrified Forest National Monument) that was bad enough to close I-40. We were attempting to drive through it at the time, and it was bad enough that we turned around and went back to Flagstaff.

      But the air photos of the Phoenix haboob are just incredible.

      Bob in AZ

  5. CTuttle says:

    It’s always interesting to read about all the Western tales, and reactions to the ‘Hawala’ money exchanges, which has been used since, PBUH Muhammad’s day…! ;-)

    Btw, how do you think all those US Billion$ vanished so quickly, in Baghdad, and, even Kabul…? ;-)

  6. fatster says:

    Meanwhile, in theUK;

    Lawyers to boycott UK torture inquiry as rights groups label it a sham
    Post-9/11 inquiry in disarray after revelation that key hearings will be secret and victims will be unable to question intelligence agents


  7. hackworth1 says:

    Some money changers are just peachy with the USA – in fact they are keenly rewarded. Is it Wells Fargo Bank with its banking kiosks along the US Mexico Border which launders Drug money for Smugglers? Or is that BOA?

  8. eCAHNomics says:

    Would that be the same Scott Horton who thought Michael Mukasey was a solid citizen?

    • melior says:

      Would that be the same Scott Horton who thought Michael Mukasey was a solid citizen?

      Indeed it is, and also the same one who a few months later called him “an embarrassment to those who have known and worked with him over the last twenty years, and who mistakenly touted his independence and commitment to do the right thing, come what may.”

  9. rosalind says:

    ot: so glad our security agencies have improved their information sharing /s:

    The embattled head of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has told congressional investigators that some Mexican drug cartel figures targeted by his agency in a gun-trafficking investigation [Operation Fast and Furious] were paid informants for the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration.

    Sources said investigators had “very real indications from several sources” that some of the cartel leaders the ATF was trying to identify through Fast and Furious were “already known” to the other agencies and apparently had “been paid as informants.”

    Finally, Melson said, ATF agents along the U.S.-Mexico border realized that the FBI and DEA were running separate operations and that it “could have a material impact on Fast and Furious.” Melson said he notified his superiors of this problem in April.

    FBI. DEA. ATF. ICE. DHS. Turf Wars meet the Drug Wars, and the citizens the losers once again.

    Hopefully they can all work out their little jurisdictional control issues before the acrimonious acronyms start calling in their targets for the armed drones coming to a border sky near you.

    Wouldn’t be seemly to be blowing up each others informants.

    • CTuttle says:

      Wouldn’t be seemly to be blowing up each others informants.

      What a Clusterf*ck…! 8-(

      What about the CIA drug ‘pipelineistans’ too…? *gah*

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