Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press

The Forever Prisoner

The Full and Searing Account of the CIA’s Most Controversial Covert Program

by Catherine Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy

A monumental feat of investigative reporting on a subject of vital national interest and importance today: the first full and comprehensive account of the most divisive clandestine operation in living memory—America’s torture program known as “enhanced interrogation,” instituted by the CIA following 9/11

  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Page Count 464
  • Publication Date April 12, 2022
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-5892-5
  • Dimensions 6" x 9"
  • US List Price $30.00
  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Publication Date February 08, 2022
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-5894-9
  • US List Price $28.00

Six months after 9/11, CIA and FBI agents captured Abu Zubaydah, mistakenly believed to be number three in the al Qaeda hierarchy. Frantic to thwart a much-feared second attack, the U.S. rendered him to a hastily constructed black site in Thailand. There he collided with Air Force psychologist James Mitchell. Believing Abu Zubaydah had been trained to resist interrogation, Mitchell and others were authorized to use enhanced techniques, including water boarding, that would have violated the Geneva Conventions, international rules and treaties, and U.S. law had government lawyers not rewritten the human rights rulebook. The program metastasized over seven years, encompassing dozens of prisoners and multiple black sites. Ultimately, the U.S. Senate judged it was torture. As a result, numerous prisoners remain in Guantanamo, never charged with a crime because their trial would reveal the brutality they experienced.

Based on four years of intensive reporting around the world, on multiple interviews with key protagonists who speak candidly for the first time, and on thousands of previously classified documents recently released by FOIA requests, The Forever Prisoner is a powerful chronicle of a shocking government initiative that continues to influence policy to this day, and remains an existential threat to the CIA. Scott-Clark and Levy recount dramatic scenes inside black sites and lawyers’ offices through the eyes of those who were there and trace the twisted legal arguments to justify the program, extending to the highest echelons of government, which in the end produced zero high-value intelligence. Instead, it encouraged retaliation by terrorists abroad.

A primary source for the feature-length documentary of the same title by Alex Gibney to appear on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, The Forever Prisoner is as dramatic in the telling as it is consequential in its impact.

Praise for The Forever Prisoner:

The Forever Prisoner is a powerful investigation into the origins of the US official policy of torture. Focusing on the case of Abu Zubaydah, the ‘patient zero’ of the CIA’s ‘enhanced interrogation’ techniques, Scott-Clark and Levy manage to get to virtually everyone, which allows them to tell a riveting tale and the authoritative account.”—Alex Gibney, acclaimed documentarian and winner of the Academy, Emmy, and Grammy awards

Praise for The Exile:

“[Scott-Clark and Levy] set out to do what few had done before in the West: to see the September 2001 terror attacks and their aftermath from the other side. They traveled widely in the region, listened intently, interviewed aggressively, read newly released accounts and government documents deeply (and wrote lengthily). The result is a breathtaking tale.”Boston Globe

“Remarkable . . . They have produced the best account yet of what happened to al-Qaeda after 9/11: it is an astonishingly good piece of work.”Guardian

“A tour de force and the first detailed account told by al-Qaeda members themselves, making good use of the diaries of Abu Zubaydah, the captured al-Qaeda facilitator, as well as extensive interviews with one of its religious thinkers . . . It tells us lots of things we knew, but in far more detail.”Sunday Times

“Magnificent . . . The Exile is a truly impressive feat of journalism, both the closest we’re ever likely to come to a day-by-day account of Bin Laden’s life in those years and also an intensely gripping reading experience.”Christian Science Monitor

“[Scott-Clark and Levy’s] latest, The Exile: The Flight of Osama bin Laden, is perhaps their best yet . . . The book fills in many important gaps in our knowledge of al-Qaeda . . . a gripping inside account.”Observer

“Remarkable . . . The book’s fascinating perspective exposes layers of human complexity in individuals who are often shrouded by intrigue, and brings nuance to the general Western understanding of jihadi groups. This extensively researched, eminently readable work greatly enhances public knowledge of these dramatic years and will be welcomed by specialists and general readers alike.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A tour de force of investigative research.”Kirkus Reviews

“[A] huge tour-de-force of a read . . . The authors have brought the personality of bin Laden into a sharper focus than could ever have been imagined. The detail mustered is little short of incredible, and evidently the result of forensic research only the best of investigative journalists could dig out . . . An exceptional account of those lost years when bin Laden and his family went to ground . . . Big it might be, but it is also a page-turner. There have been many books before on bin Laden and al-Qaeda, but this is one of the best.”Glasgow Herald