John Rizzo spent over thirty years in various legal capacities with the CIA; that is, as a Company Man, serving several presidents, undergoing several near misses at the General Counsel post. He was acting general counsel on a number of occasions, but never achieved the top post. Politics, he says.
Although, much of his career was exciting as you might expect a lawyer for spies to be, and even selfless in his opinion, to my mind, his shameful last few years at the agency negated the whatever good he did during the previous twenty-five. Rizzo was the self-proclaimed crafter of the torture memos which gave legal cover to the horrendous EIT’s (enhanced interrogation techniques) and black prisons which so shamed this country in the post-9/11 days. He claims that the techniques yielded valuable life-saving information that might have been gained in no other way. Whether that’s true or not, I’m in no position to say. However, the fact that he asserts that the FBI distanced themselves from the program early on and that he fails to mention that the army field manual labeled waterboarding as torture cast doubts on his assertion. He also describes the scaling back of the EIT program to omit techniques such as water boarding and naked interrogation but makes no claim that this reduction in severity yielded less information or less credible information.
I suppose if you consider this episode a black eye in our country’s history, as I do, this makes for a painful read. If you think it was necessary and proper, you’ll be applauding the guy. As for me, it was an interesting and rather candid book by and about a man for whom I have little sympathy.