A man questions everything - his faith, his morality, his country - as he recounts his experience as an interrogator in Iraq; an unprecedented memoir and "an act of incredible bravery" (Phil Klay).
"I tell Karin there will be consequences for making my Iraq experience public. I say, 'People aren't going to be happy.' She says, 'As long as you think it's the right thing to do....'" (from Consequence)
Consequence is the story of Eric Fair, a kid who grew up in the shadows of crumbling Bethlehem Steel plants nurturing a strong faith and a belief that he was called to serve his country. It is a story of a man who chases his own demons from Egypt, where he served as an army translator, to a detention center in Iraq to seminary at Princeton and, eventually, to a heart transplant ward at the University of Pennsylvania.
In 2004, after several months as an interrogator with a private contractor in Iraq, Eric Fair's nightmares take new forms: first there had been the shrinking dreams; now the liquid dreams begin. By the time he leaves Iraq after that first deployment (he will return), Fair will have participated in or witnessed a variety of aggressive interrogation techniques, including sleep deprivation, stress positions, diet manipulation, exposure, and isolation. Years later, his health and marriage crumbling, haunted by the role he played in what we now know as "enhanced interrogation", it is Fair's desire to speak out that becomes a key to his survival.
Spare and haunting, Eric Fair's memoir is both a brave, unrelenting confession and a book that questions the very depths of who he and we as a country have become.
This audiobook includes a conversation between the author and Phil Klay, author of Redeployment.
"Remarkable.... Both an agonized confession and a chilling expose of one of the darkest interludes of the War on Terror. Only this kind of courage and honesty can bring America back to the democratic values that we are so rightfully proud of." (Sebastian Junger)
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An honest and frank discussion
I really liked that Eric Fair read his own story. I think it worked well with his writing style, and this was a story I definitely wanted to hear in his own voice. I'm not sure simply reading the book would have had the same impact.
Eric Fair wrote an Op-ed piece in the New York Times a little over a year ago, the day the Senate released its torture report. At the end of the piece he says "Most Americans haven't read the report. Most never will. But it stands as a permanent reminder of the country we once were." He says in the future students will be assigned portions of the Senate torture report, and "[t]he students will come to know that this country isn't always something to be proud of."
I think this memoir serves as a very similar reminder. Fair does not feign innocence in this book. He is by his own admission a torturer, having served as a contract interrogator at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq during the same time the photographs were taken showing abuse of the detainees. He is frank and honest about the things he had knowledge of and the things that he participated in. What I found so important about this book, was that Fair could have easily let himself off the hook. He did not take part in interrogation at the "hard site" in Abu Ghraib, he did not take part in the photographed abuse, he never participated in water boarding. Everything he did was legal. But to Fair there is no distinction, the terms "enhanced interrogation" and "approved techniques" are just other words for torture.
Fair does not try to justify his actions or debate the effectiveness of the techniques. Instead this is a story of a man trying to come to terms with his actions. To accept that he may not believe he is worthy of forgiveness, and figure out how to move forward in his life. Fair's honest portrayal of events is an important read as we as a country must evaluate our actions. At a time when a presidential candidate advocates for water boarding, as a country we must evaluate what we are willing to justify during times of war. Neither Fair nor anyone from CACI were ever prosecuted. They "tortured people in the right way". This book forces the reader to acknowledge the abuse that occurred and ask if these consequences are we are willing to accept in the name of national security?
- Kelsie Massini