He is known among family and friends as Stephen, but after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks he went to work for the CIA as a deep cover operative even going so far as to change his name to “Steve”. He served in the front lines in the Global War on Terrorism in such hotspots as Al Khandahar and Herat. Whenever Special Forces or intelligence agents brought a suspected terrorist to Steve it was his job to break them…FAST.
“We were pretty sure they had follow-on operations in the works,” Steve tells this reporter. “They had a strategic momentum they had to keep-up if they didn’t want to be seen as a one trick pony. Lives were at stake and we were desperate.”
And it was in this climate of fear and desperation that Steve admits “mistakes were made.” Among the many techniques employed by Steve and his fellow CIA operatives–from sleep deprivation to blaring Swedish death metal music and unusually cold rooms–waterboarding has received the widest criticism. Some even go so far as to call it torture.
“Yeah, we did it,” he admits with a trembling in his voice. “but now I look back and I think, how could we have been so blind?”
Steve goes into lengths–as if speaking to a priest from within a confessional–talking about how the controversial interrogation method yielded a vast treasure trove of intelligence about an Al Qaeda operation moving into its execution phase. “There’s no doubt about it; they were going to hit Los Angeles.”
Indeed that is the damning spiritual indictment Steve wrestles with everyday, “We stopped [Al Qaeda] from blowing-up a city that is selling tickets to see a doped-up pedophile buried in a gold coffin. Everyday I have to live with that fact and I’m ashamed of it.
“We risked our lives, our reputations and legal prosecution for this? I don’t know what the president was selling to the American people at the time but that’s not why I joined.”