In October of last year, my short play The Salt Pit was selected to be part of the Emerging Artist Theater’s New Writer Series.
Once again, my good friend Elizabeth Burkhard Directed the play and Produced it with me. Elizabeth Bell was the Stage Manager, Sherry Martinez was the Costume Designer and Jake Haven Parisseas was the Violence Coordinator. We also cast an amazing group of talented actors (everyone says that, but in this case it’s true). We got very lucky.
The Salt Pit Cast:
Harold Black …………. John Hart
Omar Gowon …… Ahmed Khedr
Soldier 1 ….. Rebecca Anderson
Soldier 2 …………Jason Ramirez
I was motivated to write The Salt Pit after learning that a former boss of mine, Harold Brown (yes, I realize not too much creativity went in to choosing that character’s name), was one of the CIA analysts killed in the Camp Chapman attack that took place on December 30, 2009.
No, I wasn’t in the CIA and neither was Harold when I worked with him (not that I was aware of anyway). He was not only a great guy, but he was also a good guy. While we had different beliefs politically (well, in many things) he was never closed-minded. Our differences fostered more than one or two spirited discussions, but he was always open-minded and it never got personal or hostile. Quite often, the discussions ended in laughter.
Take a moment and imagine that in today’s climate.
After I found out about his murder I began to wonder how the man I knew reconciled his personal and religious beliefs with the principles of enhanced interrogation. While I have no evidence to suggest that Harold participated in any interrogations what I know about enhanced interrogation seems contrary to the man I knew.
I also began wondering how many innocent people were swept up in the fervor to prosecute the people behind 9/11. Also, to what degree of complicity meant guilt? And what or who defines that complicity and/or guilt? It seemed to me that it was a very thin line between guilt and innocence. Maybe it still is.
So, I wrote The Salt Pit.
It’s worth noting that the Salt Pit was/is a prison in Afghanistan and was/is a real CIA black site that was/is used for the interrogation of suspected terrorists . . . and any other international ne’er-do-wells.
All interrogation tactics I use in the play are taken from methods outlined in the Army and CIA Interrogation Manuals. The language is coarse and the interrogation harsh but not exaggerated as to what was/is allowed. After The Patriot Act was passed in October of 2001, interrogation techniques became even tougher.
The Salt Pit contains strong language and violence.
You can read and/or download the play by clicking on this -> The Salt Pit 2019.