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tv   After Words with Eric Fair  CSPAN  August 19, 2016 10:59pm-12:01am EDT

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>> eric, thanks for talking about your book. your book is a war story, story about you as an interrogator engage didn't difficult experiences in iraq. ..
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to the point that enhanced interrogation clearly is torture feted in his interrogation.
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and then to suggest where they come from or what had happened because i did not know but more importantly to explain my role in these things. >> and to condemn those involved. >> one to dig more into that but before we get there to start with your upbringing how motivated you were by your religious bringing growing up in a steel town in pennsylvania that with your decision to go into law enforcement. >> in a dying steel town in
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the presbyterian church something sight humility to be quiet or large display of affection or appreciation the far more importantly with zero or two where i felt protected and people were kind to me older men called me by my first name and it was as safe and wonderful place. and then to focus on the needs of others so it was a beautiful institutions.
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>> there is a lot of veterans as well so that idea that what you serve in the military was strong this was the '90s you for it decided to join but i found many of the same things the idea of taking care of each other off in simply did think of others first. and the concern is so is about the troops but it is so incredibly familiar. >> tough -- serious bid:dash so you spend the next five years as you make your way to iraq.
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>> i feel protected in the church. >> but then the general nature. and to be a police officer. so licensed day calling toward law-enforcement with the preference points. and in 1995 after four years of college it was a peacetime army but largely a war fought from the air. in every war would be fought from the year. and then after monterey is
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that the next three or four years with training exercises like tennessee and louisiana and north carolina , and my enlistment was up there wasn't much of a need at that point in the army was getting boring. i felt the call to law-enforcement so i went back to pennsylvania as a police officer. >> when i read a passage of your book just read that and then that is one of the first entry points of the interrogation. >> with those training exercise is available so the
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idea that they would be captured. >> essentially it was a training program to alleviate resist and is keeping your behind in reliance and how to escape and resist and then that is subjected to interrogation of a foreign entity or for an army. and so but then you are captured and then taken to a detention facilities that they threatened our families by name and then playing it
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over and over of his son cry every night then increase the train from ozzie osborn. we were promised warmed meals and thence to cooperate. it just takes time. >> >> for this to be the first entry point into the interrogation as a soldier in that it would be held out as a valid experience just
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knowing in retrospect with the interrogation program with those techniques from water boarding on down were reverse engineered. >> so the school reinforcement that we would be captured by the bad guys and that is how we were treated as though as a much they could teach you but it was still a trading environment bed then drag difficulty in to raise the
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american flag now the idea and the noble undertaking. >> key went on with meet the press a few days after 9/11 and a large portion of that that the enemy works in the dark places the only way for us to infiltrate is to join them in this place. i thought that is not how we should be but frankly i was an agreement and even to their roster to i have great respect for he did not
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confront the vice president and that he evolved from their end and then once they said it out loud maybe we could and we did not object but that was implemented. but then with the enhanced interrogations program we don't have any direct experience but the intention was to work on the dark side it did not need to come from sear school or from the outside influence how to torture or abuse. >> there is a valuable discussion and of that would
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have mattered. >> levy army in 2000 and they go back to bethlehem police department so tell about that transition. so this idea of law enforcement the law enforcement agencies was one of the first so i love the job of law enforcement to be engaged with the people so it is a deep moment of crisis or read domestic dispute or a newt assault or how you respond at that moment could change the
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direction they would head it and. as a steady form of compassionate authority they could quickly calmed down if you have officers coming back that could make things worse in quite frankly they get riled up so you take somebody that is in crisis but the vast majority of those police officers were compassionate and it was a perfect job. it is perfectly healthy to require a heart murmur that led to testing and it turned out i had a cardiomyopathy that instantly ended nine
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law-enforcement career. so all of those things that i had was suddenly wiped away. this was post 9/11 so there was a war in iraq and i could not reenlist as the insurgency started to grow to accomplish the task filling handy empty spaces as a police officer was security clearance and into lou qualify me in the position of the interrogator.
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so the army says here is why he is qualified. in saddam hussain was just captured we thought the war would end in weeks or months you wanted to get there quickly provided an derived january 2004. >> talk about the contractor that you signed up with and also i uninterested in the role of the contractor and i was struck by a how haphazard as you describe it in the book but it does seem very integrated in the sense that it is hard to tell for those were not as familiar
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with the contractor. >> i worked for the of a company kaci most of the and the contractors were intelligence but most were asked with a new division within their own company called human intelligence at the time interrogator's analyst and they would meet with the prisoners first. >> end bin basic training we were out to raking leaves one day as they wanted to get directions i remember
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the drill sergeant screaming across the grass and did not want us to have contact with the on-site world. we watched from a distance in this drill sergeant spoke very respectfully and gave them directions and it was a shock a drill sergeant who we thought ruled the world but in the face of civilians he was the underlying in what was drilled into your head from the star is civilian leadership you learn the chain of command but there is always of photo of the united states and in civilian clothes so then you recognize that you are in charge so that was a
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complication the military viewed it that outside the chain of command the elbows in the military we still thought of ourselves in the chain of command with the specialist even though we were out of uniform we found ourselves acting like we did before likely tenants and captains as the bizarre interaction i am not sure anybody knows how that was supposed to go. >> you are a contractor, you are righted said baghdad to make your way to the abu
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ghraib prison. tell us about the first sign that you had that things were not quite what they should be. >> klay amassed this question a lot and i tried to think a remember pulling into the prison remember when i was wearing but it was disorienting that i thought many of us had the impression tough and the vast number of prisoners our in outdoor camps and this is not what i thought of as interrogation. and my image was of the first goal for indent headed back behind enemy lines but
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here we were in one of the most dangerous parts of iraq have we between fallujah and baghdad the this was not how the prisoners of war camp was run. he did not interrogate prisoners but more importantly the safety of the actual prisoners. but when i knew something was not quite right even thinking about the issue most were confused why it was arranged this way. >> he telling interesting story in your book these prisoners for interrogation that have little to nothing
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as far as why they were picked up to be engaged in anti-coalition activity. >> is the impossible task for those soldiers and in most cases of the infantry soldiers it was such a confusing place bath they deny having done that but then they had to move on to the next impossible mission. then they end up that abu ghraib and we would process them but may be a majority
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had the detainee suspected of anti-coalition. also to see running from the scene of an explosion. then if you run from that then you are potentially involved. to not run from the scene of an explosion. that is an impossible task for those who are out there but clearly a break down in what would happen they read not just sent back to a safe place to be held until the end of the conflict but they were sent back to the present where the thought was we would gather intelligence from people who had no connection to any valuable information. >> so your job is to sit down with the detainee's and talk to them and with the
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coalition activities, we talk how the first few weeks are unfruitful and the story to not be a threat to the coalition forces but tell us about that experience. >> debt was impossible to know. clearly those that were part of abu ghraib they did have information but there were many others there is simply no way to determine why there were there in the first place where one gentleman in particular this was a common theme who said his son was suspected as being anti-coalition but the father will not give up the location someone tell they
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do we take the father. then they say yet if i do give up my son how do i know where he is? so you tell me. of that prisoner or detainee. but detainee is not with coalition forces. my impression is they would not in sight a riot but they were set for read these. i recommended these guys for release. and i was told this is what is happening but i didn't want to be seen as the one recommended never before release so i changed. even then i did not see as a
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threat but i would write down that they were. >> their traditional interrogation, when did that start to cross the al line in your mind? i know there has been a shifting as you look back by a curious. >> i did not think about the wine. as you mentioned i spoke arabic although i still needed a translator in the beginning. once the iraqi recognized i spoke the language they were desperate to talk to me it could hold a long conversation. but all around i was aware
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these enhanced interrogation techniques but the chairs and tables the talked-about food, sleep, isolation, sens ory deprivation, that was behind closed doors. >> it wasn't something i considered but the more frustrating the interrogations' became -- began but i was still a contractor.
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>> and then to check him to you about of lions and. >> this would make no sense if you did not go there but the type of soldier in the '90s who had memorized the field manual, the dash to feed your weapon or helicopters though when and everyone would have to go out each end with those levels, there was a specific
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way to do that if you just there to. budget they've made the efficient and it was that though wave that and a half -- but the vast majority they don't operate by field manual but by getting in that field manual gives different procedures also there is a discussion to be creative that we need
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information and. i will not say that was ordered directly bin . mammoths the heat head but we were not doing this behind closed doors or we worry a cut. >> there is clearly pressure to get an for russia back so was there ever a conversation for these techniques crossbow line? me was that in the consciousness? >> there was. what could or could not be dead and. one of the things you are not allowed to do is threaten their life to say
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if you don't talk to will shoot you in the head that is a clear violation but can i do things to make the prisoner freed for his life without saying directly if you don't cooperate we will send you to egypt where they know he may be executed. and they say that only to illustrate we were thinking what to think about limits. but there were absolutely in - - a obsolete open season to everyone ted but now in retrospect we know that there were i like to think of i would have seen the
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things that were recorded whitewater boarding or the disco rooms with the use of dogs or exhaust pipes but because of my own actions writer i ended up going i don't know if i could stand up to say something. >> at abu ghraib you tell the story and tell us about that. >> day hearthside the vast majority of prisoners were held in camps and it was of higher value targets that is suspected at this point of chemical weapons or attaching some how to
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terrorism. >> and with my high level clearances' with law-enforcement experience i was thought of as an asset so for me they make this very difficult to hold a conversation with a translator you're never quite sure if you got the full conversation so the idea that i would come in to observe the translator to over hear the conversations so maya introduction was to the translators. but i saw something that changed the way that i've thought about what we we're doing. but i knew are was now involved in something or was spent the rest of my life
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but to receive these techniques implemented was morally troubling. there is a great deal of nudity and with the men changed -- change with their wrist around their ankles. but i can tell you to see someone and they forced standing position has nothing to do with standing at the desk. it was torture. at the time it was hard to come to grips with the fact that i didn't want to violate the trust. there is no easy way to deny the torture. >>
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>> new york you to read from the interrogation. >> at that time the mayor. >> of prisoner cavemen he claimed to be the mayor. the hit has been involved with an attack cover local police department so there was some suspicion he head and then he was passed on to another interrogator who placed to amend the custody
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in share. and where that came from, there were rumors and it doesn't matter if it is untrue because as americans americans, we did this a way to focus of what we did as a nation so while being interrogated by happened to walk by the interrogation room. the door to the room was of flimsy sheets of plywood inside bowed to the palestinian share his hands are tied to his dingell's if forces have to lean forward all of the weight of his thighs as if he was kneeling down to pray his arms were pinned below his legs and is blindfolded his head collapsed into his chest he gasps for air there is a pool of urine and his feet too tired to cry but into much pain to remain silent.
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>> host: obviously this is an incredibly horrifying scene. one of the things is how so much of the public conversation around torture focuses on water boarding and which basically is strapping someone on to a board forcing water into their lungs to create the experience of drowning a very painful technique that inspired the imagination and we talk about torture but these stress positions or sleep deprivation that is the category of torture as well. is there a psychological component other than the physical point that it -- the pain that is described for web forms your view? >> yes the psychological
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component is the only one the physical nature is just to get you to the psychological point you don't ever have to lay a hand on them to torture them some you to do sleep deprivation but fallujah was an incredibly violent and people had done a terrific things even i at time was tempted to put people in the chair but it did seem a strange and maybe that was my alarm bell so i thought i should say but i felt like ben another agreed so we strapped each other that paid was searing and that is enough it was searing pain. but what mattered more but the fear of knowing you could not get away from the pain and you were unsure how much worse it could get. >> you had no control so
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within a minute or two we said get me out and it hurt but that momentary sense if my friend was not standing right there ready to take me out i don't know where i am going i don't know it is coming that is incredibly frightening and having seen the mayor of fallujah was clearly in pain but there is a sense of what was going on in his head and created is what constituted the torture i can speak about my own i did not use the chair i did see that i was complicity but i showed up for an interrogation and was asked to participate in sleep deprivation they wanted me to keep him awake so i came in and did some paperwork that i went into the cell to waken up and stripped him
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naked and realized immediately it was an assault on this individual that is where my involvement ended and the idea that going through law school or basic training or ranger school is equivalent and that is ridiculous that is intellectually lazy back to be accomplished in a matter of hours no windows they have no idea what time it is let them sleep for '08 one dash one hour the wake them up they have no idea how long they slept within three or four hours they have no idea they have been a long it could've been for five days that they lose all control and recognize they no longer have control of their lives and you couldn't simply strip them of hope.
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that is sleep deprivation you just need a few hours. >> one thing beyond of moral discussions of those interrogators that really creates a sense of disorientation and disrupting the brains function how can that be the best way to get better information from someone? it is interesting you don't go into the efficacy of torture you talk about some examples where there is no lot of information or viewer just having cake but why do you think the public conversation is so focused on whether it works? and
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why you deride that narrative in your book? >> think the reason is sold the public is so enamored is because the world this so frightening and scary and what we face scares us so there is no loss of control the same thing you try to do to lose that sense of control is how we feel by facing the complicated world that is no more than it ever has been it is not worse it is a deep brutality of war so the idea that you can force control of a person or force them to cooperate is comforting because now you regain control so instead of accepting it is so complicated than those values like compassion and
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humanity won't fix it, you resort to things like torture this person is that i will control them and get the affirmation now i am safe and it is simplistic i don't mean to be demeaning because i felt that myself but we lacked any voice that said the effectiveness of the technique has nothing to do with who we are as a nation. if that is all be our then just do it that we have lost our way like the constitution and the bill of rights i did not swear an oath to protect the homeland or the citizens of the united states this war in both to the constitution and ideals in we have the application to not only
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defend those values but the issue like torture violates that isn't the worst way possible live as guilty as anyone giving in to that fear in the wake of 9/11 but we need to do better. >> occurred to me reading in your book as you go through these abusive interrogations' that your fate is tested and then you come out to talk about this is a retrospective exercise. so the question is why didn't you extract yourself? >> how similar the church
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and the army could be. so it is an incredibly attractive organization it is very difficult to extract myself to recognize what i was doing was violating my own faith so yes i see these things morally wrong and may still have an obligation to be a part of that if you've not server ben n uniform the sounds ridiculous but that is what we do you become something bigger than yourself and that can mean a lot but for me that meant even though there was a pulled toward something like my faith or the values i was taught that i learned from a which a number or the police department, had to separate myself because this is what
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we we're doing to prosecute the zero or. and then i recognized that was a failure on my part but letting go of the question that i got cast was you did not like you were a contractor because of pulled toward that community was so strong that it was revolting to work as hard as they could to justify what we we're doing but once i got home, i was a deterrent to say this is okay now i can move on because i could not do that. >> he resorted to you drinking and your condition
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got wars united of getting a heart transplant is you were literally on your deathbed so talk about your decision to go public. >> the heart conditions spurred in iraq without having lost that job would have stayed i may never have never gone to iraq and alcohol i think i am careful in the book is not a book about addiction there are some excellent books about that that speaks far more eloquently about that than i do and what that to be a distraction of how i dealt with alcohol because that is something a lot of soldiers or anyone recovering from traumas' deals with. but as the heart condition continues to worsen as cardiologists have said i
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simply face my deathbed so i start to write about iraq in maya fault -- involvement but i was aware then and now that the clock was ticking even as healthy as i am retirement age is ruled out at some point i have a short span so yes there is that extra sense to hurry up and me as honest as i can. >> your pretty careful in your book to avoid politics as a very personal story about your experience in your life but you came to d.c. last year to work on the anti-torture measure passed in congress and have
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responded to some of the comments made on the presidential campaign about returning to water reporting so talk how that process has factored into your thinking and why you decided to speak out. >> in the washington post the resume of bed that my colleagues may not necessarily respond well i did think some would support me. but essentially all of them broke contact with me and i have not heard from them since and i was difficult as i was very isolated a new i did the right thing but so i absolutely felt like i violated trust and broken bonds. even today i still feel bad now a few years later the organization did reach out as they speak about these
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issues on the hill would you be interested? i responded by i don't think that is a good idea of a professional interrogators for the fbi in cia will want me around and think by voice is valuable on my own i had an obligation but if you need a push i was welcomed with open arms and that was the eyeopener this is in a conservative or liberal or democrats the people from all sides of the i/o within the intelligence community speaking out strongly against these practices are remember sitting down with the general who was the director and being incredibly intimidated knowing what i had done here is sitting across and he was gracious enough to spend an
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hour speaking with me and show affection and support for what i had done with no condemnation there were questions how that could have been but essentially a was part of the group so i was reintroduced and the bond was reformed i still miss what i had i will miss those close friends they were good people but organizations like this allowed me to recognize that a lot of people feel very strongly about this. >> and senator mccain said it best it is about who they are but who we are and the narratives that i think that reflects that is the idea that not only does this have an impact on the individual we hold in our custody but
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the families will pay the price as well but what does that mean for the soldiers? and others working with our government when we asked our on to engaged in torture and what impact on our friends and family? i think that is what your book is about this may not be the most comfortable subject but i am curious if you had a chance to talk to those detainee's in iraq who were subjected to the techniques what would you say to them? >> it is incredibly important and difficult question by a process that often they come up with different answers the best
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is that it would be obscene for me to make any suggestions how i would approach that meeting or what i want to come out to if that would never happen in any of their way than just quiet and open their caribbean other violation of their person i don't know of that would ever happen am not suggesting i wanted to where they wanted to perhaps those moments were similar but with the war still raging in iraq ended is in afghanistan, don't know that any of us have reached that point but it would be offensive for me to suggest the never taken agenda in that meeting. >> we think of the
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suggestions from politicians that we should return to water boarding? i think the argument for enhanced derogation that isis and the other groups don't hesitate to chop off heads so we tie our hands with our ability to respond if we don't resort to these tactics is a prominent theme even with the campaign but even with a good portion of the american public. >> if we talk about the donald trump comments played about water boarding the do empathize because i have spend there so i know where they come from and it is a place of fear because have used a voice that says it doesn't matter have been eight year-old son who comes all from school i think he a strong american values but if he has a bad grade or not behaving well and says it
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doesn't matter because everybody else did worse this was hard and everybody failed, or with bad behavior the other kids are doing far worse i was just talking i would say that's fine as long as you're not as bad as they are and continue. no. i would say i don't care what your classmates are doing i care about the way you are representing yourself and interacting with the world and we were performing these of the same values that were instilled in me and i was not allowed to. >> that is the impotent analogy but it holds true powell could possibly matter what other countries organizations are doing if that is the only standard that we have that as long as
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we are not them or doing this? that falls so short of the nation i thought i grew up in watching the first goal for one of the images that sticks with me are the thousands of iraqis surrendering and running towards the american troops because they knew there would be treated better than their own units they iran to the country for safety and that is the message we should send even to organizations like isis if we capture your you surrender, we may imprison you we will be treated humanely we will take care of you if you cooperate to whether they do were not settled think that matters with the discussion of torture. >> one of the frustrating things from my perspective is a high-level military
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leaders even during the bush administration with the techniques were proposed and authorized with the insurgency within the military has really been those who don't have interrogation experience with those leaders in the of military and rework with a group of retired generals and that is a message that has not gotten out there enough in my hope is as the conversation continues with the american people to realize this is a mistake your outpost heart transplant your wife has been by your side with a knee year-old boy, what is next in terms of your narrative?
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>> i am a torturer and still feel obligated to talk about it bios level a heart transplant recipients they think short-term sold the idea is recurring of what's next? i don't know and still feel obligated to the book little league is next in the week to seek care in tonight when i drive home and those are things that they need to focus on but also this book does not end a chapter for me it does not allow me to say i was. that i have moved on but the important part that it identifies me as someone who is a torture and was able to do these things and if i am not careful or listening to the right choices are people
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that i'm capel to fall into these again and that is similar for the nation cannot think that we did this and now we are okay. now we have john brennan saying it is admirable but we cannot walk away to suggest it is not who we are. it is this happening as a country and as a nation we need to address that of the year capable to do that again. >> thanks for sitting down to talk. >> thanks for having me
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>> welcome to afterwards. you have have just published your first book, remarkable book. i enjoyed it immensely.

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