CIVILIAN APPROACHES TO INTERROGATION
|The social psychology of police interrogation: Influencing
the suspects perception of:
|(1) the nature and gravity of his immediate situation
||(2) the suspects available choices or alternatives
||(3) the consequence of these choices.
|1. Shift the suspect from confidence to hopelessness
||2. Offering suspects inducements to confess.
||The consequences of police-induced false confessions
|Lead the suspect to believe that he or she has been caught and guilt can
be objectively demonstrated to the safisfaction of any reasonable person;
that this fact is indisputable and cannot be changed; that there is no way
out of this predicament; and as a result, the suspect is trapped and his
or her fate determined.
Seek to influence the suspect to perceive that the only way to improve
this otherwise hopeless situation is by admitting to the offense. Persuade
the suspect that the benefits of admitting guilt clearly outweigh the
costs of continuing to assert innocence.
|Low end Inducements:
||Refer to self-image, interpersonal, or moral appeals. Suggest that
denying culpability will perpetuate bad feelings and a tormented conscience.
||Suggest that you will try to help him out by talking to the prosecutor
and posibly acting as a favorable witness.
|High end Inducements:
||suggest more favorable treatment by judge and prosecutor; cooperation
will reflect more positively in sentencing.
Once the suspect has been convinced that he will almost certainly be
arrested, convicted, and punished, however, his evaluation of the immediate
situation will cause him or her to believe that confession is in his or
her rational best interest, if only just to buy some time.
- Decisions are finalized
- Investigations are cut short
- Resources are removed
- The suspect is treated with extreme prejudice
- Greater difficulty making bail
- Statements outweigh physical evidence by 79%
- When the suspect offers an alibi that places him in some other location when the crime was committed, pretend to accept it as the truth. Go on with other questions for a while, then ask a detailed question about an incident at the alibi location that the suspect could not have failed to see.
- Good guy, Bad guy
- Bad guy intimidates the suspect with belligerent and threatening behavior,
putting forward the perception of gradual loss of control.
- Good guy remains calm and supportive; presents a slightly more positive outcome if the suspect cooperates.
- Trojan Horse Strategy
- Pretend to believe the suspect to get the suspect to talk him or her self into a tangle
- Guilty Knowledge Technique (for Polygraph)
- Do not ask the suspect if he or she committed the crime, instead ask about information known only to the guilty party.
- Ask a series of equally plausible multiple choice questions. Only the guilty would know which was which (Eckman, 185)
- Requires Absolute Certainty about the details of the incident.
- Amplify fear if the suspect appears to be fearful already.
- If the suspect is a novice criminal, it is often effective to make him think that he is legally subject to greater penalties than is in fact the case.
- Blatant neglect
- Some subjects who are deeply insecure crave attention. It is possible
to exploit this attribute by openly focusing on what others have to say,
with the subject able to see but not to hear what you are doing. The point
is to convey the impression that you are getting allot of incriminating
information while denying the subject an opportunity to refute any of
it. Sometimes this sort of pressure works to convert a silent subject
into a talkative one, because being ignored is harder to hear than being
- False identification
- If a suspect has victimized someone, it is sometimes possible by prearrangement to invite more "victims" to view a lineup and identify the suspect as the one who got them too.
- The idea is to fool the suspect into admitting the one crime in order to convince the investigators that she is innocent of the others of which she has been accused.
MILITARY APPROACHES TO INTERROGATION
- Direct Approach
- Asking pertinent questions immediately may work about ten percent of the time
if the prisoner was conscripted, drafted, or otherwise forced into service
perhaps under direct or indirect threat to his or her family.
- Love of Comrades
- If an enemy prisoner can be convinced that providing information to his captors means a better chance for his fellow soldiers to survive, an interrogator will run Love of Comrades. Sometimes this is supposed to be localized, for instance, "The wounded taken prisoner with you are in the camp hospital; would you like to see them?" Other times it calls for a different application: "If you help us understand where your unit's defensive positions are, we can surround them and offer terms - otherwise, we must carpet bomb the entire area." Because prisoners we encountered were not from any organized unit per se, this approach
was not easy to manipulate into something practical for our situation.
- Hate of Comrades
- The textbook example of a Hate of Comrades approach is when a prisoner has been abandoned - or can be convinced that he was abandoned during the action in which he was captured. But any prisoner who perceives real or imagined neglect, prejudice ("They left you behind because you're a Ukrainian, you know"), or betrayal is ripe for this approach.
- Love of Family
- A tip-off - say, a photograph of a loved one in a wallet or a love letter in a confiscated knapsack can be a clue that a sense of distance, loneliness, and the uncertainty of the future is already at work on the interrogator's side. Praying on this, and persuasively converting it into a reason to talk, is the challenge.
- Establish Your Identity
- This technique is popular with some student interrogators because it's confrontational and dramatic. The interrogator dreams up a set of circumstances and challenges the prisoner to refute the charges. A downed enemy pilot who, in a vain attempt to evade capture, donned civilian clothes could be accused of being a spy. "And spies, as you know, are shot." Since all our opponents in Afghanistan were nonuniformed irregulars, this approach had many variants and possibilities.
- This approach - to my knowledge, only ever practiced in the schoolhouse - calls for the interrogator to simply stare at the prisoner in an attempt to unnerve him into submission. It usually devolves into the interrogator's breaking out into fits of uncontrollable laughter.
- Mutt & Jeff.
- Mutt & Jeff (Good Cop, Bad Cop). Classic technique whereby one interrogator plays the irate tough guy and his partner moves in as a sympathetic soul there to "help." We got a surprising amount of mileage out of this method by getting quite sophisticated with the roles and cover stories.
- We Know All.
- There's a limited scope to this approach, which demands a large reservoir of knowledge beforehand. Inspired by the impressive record of achievement amassed by Hans Scharff, the Luftwaffe's master interrogator in World War II, we used this tack with surprising effectiveness once the team was sufficiently familiar with the training, personalities, and organization of our enemies.
- Rapid Fire.
- Another method limited largely to Huachuca classrooms, the Rapid Fire approach calls for an interrogator to belt out questions with such speed and disregard for interrupting the prisoner that a pertinent question slipped in at an opportune moment of confusion may elicit a valuable answer. If the principle isn't dubious enough, it also requires a tremendous effort to assemble enough questions to last the duration of the interrogation.
- Befuddled Interrogator
- An arrogant enemy officer with illusions of superiority is the target of this ruse, whereby the interrogator feigns complete incompetence in hopes of learning something valuable from a prisoner who either thinks there is no harm in telling a buffoon something he will never understand or, alternatively, attempts to impress the interrogator with tales of dupe and daring. On the surface a rather suspect approach, when modified so that the enemy is confronted by a youngish, "naive" female interrogator, the opportunity to boast is not infrequently taken.
- Pride and Ego Up.
- Schoolhouse scripts call for this approach to be leveraged when a prisoner is devastated by the feelings of failure that sometimes attend a battlefield capture. High praise for a well-fought fight, or acknowledgment of the universality or inevitability of those feelings, can sometimes generate a sense of fellowship or gratitude on the part of a prisoner, which can be exploited to the interrogator's ends.
- Pride and Ego Down.
- Again something to be plied against a haughty or proud prisoner, Pride and Ego Down attacks a prisoner's sense of positive self-image. A difficult approach to convert into a "break," Pride and Ego Down is nevertheless an often used - or really, misused - tactic, since taking someone down a peg seems to come so naturally when you're in a position of authority. Oftentimes it aggravates the contentiousness of the moment to no purpose.
- Fear Up. Hands down.
- The most popular approach, not to say the most useful. Cop shows and war movies glamorize this "straight down the middle" method. But loud, accusatory, and pounding-fist-on-table sessions are difficult to back away from if you need to do so later in your interaction with a prisoner. And very few interrogators have the experience and skill to convert such a dramatic confrontation into a plausible reason for the prisoner to start talking. Junior interrogators frequently resort to a Fear Up approach out of desperation when confronted by a Sergeant Rock-type opponent. My experience has shown that those cases require more finesse, while prisoners who arrive in custody in a state of terror can sometimes have their fears exacerbated, getting them to a state of high anxiety. Occasionally this state is a positive one for persuading someone to give up the goods.
- Fear Down.
- A cigarette, a can of Coke, or a kind word can sometimes work to allay fears. When appropriate, helping a prisoner regain his composure can cast the interrogator in a compassionate light - sometimes with the effect that a prisoner feels compelled to reciprocate with assistance for the source of the compassion, or at least be convinced that his would-be opponents aren't that bad after all. I always found it a challenge to run this approach and harder still to turn it into grounds for cooperation. Not surprisingly, female interrogators were excellent with Fear Down approaches and used it to remarkable effect.
- This approach and the next one, Incentive, are the basic building blocks of
all interrogations. Futility calls for the interrogator to persuasively
argue that the prisoner is without options and without hope. His cause
is lost. His comrades are doomed. His only chance is to survive, and looking
after his own self-interest is paramount. Run properly, carefully, and
with sophistication, Futility is almost always a winner. By the time we
left Afghanistan, we could run a Futility approach on another soldier
ahead of us in a chow line and then move ahead to take his place when
he ran off to commit suicide.
- Incentive. None of these approaches works in isolation except the direct approach. I constantly reminded interrogators of the imperativeness of a good incentive - a hook to seal the deal for cooperation. Establish Your Identity? Useless with out offering the way out of being an accused spy or rapist. Hate of Comrades? Going nowhere without suggesting the means of revenge. Even the silent approach has to be converted - incentive to end the maddening quietude and penetrating stare - before anything of value can be collected.
Mackey, Chris: The Interrogators: inside the secret war against al
Qaeda © 2004 by Chris Mackey and Greg Miller. ISBN 0-316-87112-5
Westervelt, Saundra D.; Humphrey, John A. Wrongly Convicted: Perspectives
on Failed Justice. ©2002 Rutgers University Press ISBN 0-8135-2951-4