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 Glenn L. Carle Image

Glenn L. Carle

23-Year Veteran of the CIA's Clandestine Services; Former CIA Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Transnational Threats; Bestselling Author, The Interrogator

Travels From:
District Of Columbia
Fee Range:
$10,000 - $15,000


A 23-year veteran of the CIA's legendary Clandestine Services, Glenn Carle was almost never who he said he was nor did what he claimed to be doing. As a covert operative, Carle spent many years abroad, working undercover on four continents on issues of national security, terrorism, and international trade. Carle's last position was as Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Transnational Threats (DNIO), where he was second to the US Intelligence Community's most senior officer for strategic threat analysis, with a focus on terrorism analysis post-9/11. Carle also served in a number of senior foreign and trade policy positions, including designing the first continuous leadership program for an elite sector of the US Intelligence Community.

Carle is the author of the highly-acclaimed book The Interrogator. Hailed as "the best and most truthful firsthand account of life inside the CIA ever published," it is a gripping exploration of national security challenges, pursuing terrorists, and the moral pressures and ethical conflicts involved in protecting the US government and American society. Drawing from his extraordinary experience with powerful personal anecdotes and engaging illustrations, Carle offers shrewd insight and astute perspective on the challenges of leadership, the drivers of individual motivation and how to successfully govern and grow complex organizations.

Speech Topics

How do you close the deal? One needs a good product, of course. But techniques are secondary, and frequently misleading. Espionage, interrogation, or making any deal primarily depends on one key element – understanding the person sitting in front of you and what drives their personal motivations. In this provocative and powerful discussion, Carle demonstrates how to approach a client and increase the likelihood of closing the deal, whatever the product in question. Carle learned how to assess and win the confidence of others over a 23-year career, recruiting people to commit treason and, in his last operation, while interrogating an al-Qa’ida member. Here, he offers audiences unparalleled insight, practical strategies, and effective tools to close the deal and win clients and contracts.

How does a leader avoid having his subordinates reinforce his biases and perceptions? A secure leader encourages challenge. The last question Carle asked in most meetings was, now, tell me where I’m stupid. He might phrase it more formally, but the point was to encourage challenge of the leader’s assumptions and decisions.

The only way for a leader to avoid being trapped in his own perspective is to encourage subordinates to challenge him as decisions are being made. In this enlightening, engaging presentation, Carle demonstrates how to avoid the blindness that comes from being in a senior position, drawing from his unique experience as the leader of the interrogation of a senior al-Qa’ida detainee as well as of the 16 agencies of the Intelligence Community in making assessments of the terrorist threat to the US. Utilizing personal anecdotes and vivid illustrations, Carle contends the need to challenge conventional thinking in the face of contradicting fact and elucidates the peril of adhering to the prevailing wisdom of leaders and organizations.

What is leadership? What do you do when your orders contradict themselves? When your superiors misunderstand the reality on the ground? What do you do if your sense of duty conflicts with the institution you serve, or what is right? In The Interrogator, Carle relates that he became an operations officer to challenge himself, to be obliged to make the hard decisions, when all was murky and there were no clear answers. He got what he wished for and also decided that he had to say no.

Character is how you act when no one else is watching. But what is character when no decision appears right? Carle illuminates this dilemma by describing the conflicts he faced, given the contradictions between a President’s order to do whatever it takes in an interrogation, and American laws and values against torture?and how he decided what was right, and when to say no. Leadership is an approach to one’s orders, peers, and self, at any place in the chain of command, not a position one fills. Carle demonstrates how leadership is an attitude, independent of rank, and may bring an officer to challenge his superiors and his orders.

How does one decide how to act when information is imperfect, contradictory, and there is no apparent right choice? Glenn Carle is all too familiar with this scenario. Based on Carle’s assignment to interrogate a top member of al-Qa’ida, with American lives on the line, Carle wrestled with and learned to challenge assumptions that hindered accomplishing the overall mission. Relevant and required for those making managerial and marketing decisions, Carle explains how an officer (employee, manager, CEO) always must challenge the assumptions that shape his instructions and stated objectives, while remaining loyal to the institution he serves – and in fact, that challenging assumptions is how one remains loyal to one’s institution, superiors, and mission.

The CIA assessment had tagged Carle’s detainee as someone who could lead the CIA to Bin Ladin. Carle’s assessment progressively disagreed with almost everything the Agency believed. But, some information convinced Carle, too, that the detainee had ties to the top of al-Qa’ida. And it was Carle’s job to decide what to do with the detainee. Surprisingly, doubt and uncertainty can enable clarity and making the right decision, because they can free one from unthinking assumptions. Carle illustrates this with examples of the dilemmas he confronted and the choices he had to make alone, at odds with the CIA, and responsible to understand where our assumptions misled us.

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