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Thread: One stop interrogation & interviewing resource

  1. #21
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    I did my stuff back in the days of Ashford and JSIW/ JSIO, and admittedly, I have not been in an I room since 93' so I am hoping all has improved for the better. It certainly should have based on all the operational experience.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen
    I did my stuff back in the days of Ashford and JSIW/ JSIO, and admittedly, I have not been in an I room since 93' so I am hoping all has improved for the better. It certainly should have based on all the operational experience.
    I went through training with the Brits in early '90 - and at that time their training was far more practical and operationally-based than was the US equivalent. The US course still had the student interrogator fixed behind a desk with a massive binder notebook in front him for all the interrogations in those days - even during the field exercise.

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    Default Interrogation in Afghanistan

    Hi, I've been reading several things lately on interrogation and I just have some questions I'd like to run past the board.

    One piece that I read was from "Educing Information" that suggested that research on areas comparable to interrogation found that pain, pressure, and coercion might actually distance a source from giving valuable intel. While another article that I read was quoting former Interrogators in Afghanistan as saying that stress positions and sensory deprivation were the only way to get actionable intelligence from bad guys.

    I'm mean, there are good examples from Algiers and the Tamil Tigers given in several of the things I've been reading that it can get info, but that it might distance population, be immoral, ect.

    So I was wondering if there was anyone that could give their first hand, near first hand, or educated opinion of what works better with Afghan EPWs, rapport posture, or coercive interrogation.

    Second, given the current political environment, and an increasing likelihood that I will deploy to Afghanistan, even if rapport posturing is less effective, how can it be made most effective?

  4. #24
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Exclamation Caution here

    Dritalin,

    From my UK armchair and being a moderator your two questions sail very close to sensitive matters, even OPSEC. I would encourage others to answer with caution.

    PM sent to Dritalin.

    davidbfpo
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-03-2009 at 10:14 AM.

  5. #25
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    Use the forum search feature and the keyword interrogation. Although the discussions are more general than specific, due to reasons that David mentioned, there is commentary and links that are useful.

    I will say that your second-hand comment:
    ....stress positions and sensory deprivation were the only way to get actionable intelligence from bad guys.
    ...is completely untrue, and whoever stated such nonsense is an amateur treading along the path to criminal action.

    Second, as a cherry 35M, you need to seek out experienced NCOs and Warrants for advice and mentoring. They won't come to you - it needs to be the other way 'round.

    I also recommend that you get on BCKS MI Space, specifically the HUMINT & CI area, and look through the material and post any RFIs you may have. (Access requires AKO log-in) Discussion can be a bit more open in that forum, but although it is relatively secure compared to an open board it is still an unclass forum with limits to how far you can go on that subject.

  6. #26
    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    dritalin:

    The US Army has doctrine on how to interrogate. This doctrine is fairly open and should be easy to find with a simple internet search. Nowhere within that doctrine is there the type of "interrogation" you have read about. I would suggest that a liar has talked to a naive journalist who didn't do due diligence before running a quote that supported his/her preconceived stereotype about interrogation.

    The saddest thing is that this is now "ground truth" for an entire generation of idiots... Regardless of what really happens in interrogation.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by 120mm
    ....I would suggest that a liar has talked to a naive journalist who didn't do due diligence before running a quote that supported his/her preconceived stereotype about interrogation....
    Unfortunately, I know of times/places in both OEF/OIF where such a statement from a military interrogator would be truth, as perceived from a narrow range of experience.

    Interrogators with no experience outside of Huachuca, placed across from difficult sources for which the rote interrogation training they've had did not effectively prepare them, will sometimes resort to questionable methods out of frustration. This is due to failures in leadership and training; the two are inextricably linked.

    Even supposedly experienced interrogators will sometimes tread down the same mistaken path - it all depends on the nature of that experience and the character of the interrogator. A difficult interrogation is an intense experience for both the source and the interrogator - and as with other high-pressure situations, it can either bring out the best or the worst in a person. When leadership and oversight is lacking, it often tends to be the latter.

    You can find some of that sort of thing in The Interrogators. The book fails to provide any substantive lessons with regard to interrogation, but it does illustrate the failure to prepare (failures in leadership and training) that particular group of interrogators for the nature of the mission at hand.
    Quote Originally Posted by 120mm
    ....The saddest thing is that this is now "ground truth" for an entire generation of idiots...
    Even sadder is that some of those for whom this is "ground truth" are currently serving.

  8. #28
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Jedburgh, your earlier post had a line that sort of bothered me

    but I shrugged it off. Your latest post caused me to recall the earlier comment:
    ...you need to seek out experienced NCOs and Warrants for advice and mentoring. They won't come to you - it needs to be the other way 'round.
    the thing that bothered me was that it seemed to me that was the opposite of the way things worked in the dark ages when us Dinosaurs walked the earth. Good NCOs and Warrants worked at recognizing and encouraging talent and came in early or stayed late to mentor the good kids. I know things change and my experience is more than dated (over 25 years ago) but the fact that kids have to ask for help sort of jangled me. However, I just pegged it and moved on.

    Then this:
    This is due to failures in leadership and training; the two are inextricably linked.
    caused me to recall the earlier comment -- and see some linkage. Or think there might be some.

    Am I missing something?

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White
    ....Your latest post caused me to recall the earlier comment:the thing that bothered me was that it seemed to me that was the opposite of the way things worked in the dark ages when us Dinosaurs walked the earth. Good NCOs and Warrants worked at recognizing and encouraging talent and came in early or stayed late to mentor the good kids. I know things change and my experience is more than dated (over 25 years ago) but the fact that kids have to ask for help sort of jangled me. However, I just pegged it and moved on.

    Then this:caused me to recall the earlier comment -- and see some linkage. Or think there might be some.

    Am I missing something?
    Ken, I don't think your observation is really just applicable to the the dark ages, when I was a young'un, I was lucky enough to be able to benefit from the mentoring environment that you describe. In many fields and units, that positive situation still exists.

    But today, because of the rapid growth in HUMINT over the past few years, there are issues with mentoring as we knew it. Its a bit of a unique animal in that regard. Because of the rapid growth, the proportion of experienced (and there are a LOT of caveats that go with that word in this field) NCOs and Warrants that can do this effectively is much smaller than in many other fields. Add to this the fact that the poster of the original RFI is National Guard, and that further narrows the available options. That is why I say seek out, because it is likely that effective mentors are outside of his immediate range of view.

    To kind'a clarify part of the comment above, because of its rapid expansion, HUMINT has struggled to fill out its NCO ranks from outside the MOS (there were always reclasses, but the proportions have been much higher recently) even at the SFC level. Add to this the fact that the Warrant field has changed from being technical experts, most of whom were prior SFCs in the MOS (the greatest and most valued mentors when I was new to the field), to being careerists. Adding to impact of both of the above is the lack of an effective selection process; there never was one, and today's heavy demand from the operational theaters for HUMINT pressures the schoolhouse for quantity over quality, resulting in individuals passing through that never would have in the period of a lesser op-tempo.

    To expand on warrants, they are now mostly taken from junior SGTs, so that they have the opportunity to advance through all the warrant grades before retirement - in my personal opinion, this was one of the most damaging things that was done to the field. Exacerbating this issue, the expansion of the field created a large number of empty warrant slots, which DA responded to by accepting personnel from other MI disciplines (i.e. SIGINT) as well as MPs as HUMINT warrant officers. Although they may have been solid NCOs in their previous field, they possess no more knowledge of HUMINT than any junior enlisted graduate of Huachuca - thus completely eliminating the value of the warrant officer as a technical expert.

    Pile all of the above together and you'll understand why there have been units where not a single individual - junior enlisted, NCO or Warrant - have any real experience in their MOS.

    The dangerous part of that is there are situations where we have the HUMINT team in a given unit learning all the wrong lessons, because of lack of experience at all ranks, lack of non-HUMINT leadership oversight and direction, etc. etc. Of course, that's an illustration of a worst-case scenario - the reality has run the entire spectrum, from the massive potential for failure just described to tight groups of smart HUMINT soldiers doing outstanding things.

    To sum up my rambling comments, mentoring in Army HUMINT suffered a substantive negative impact because of a combination of the rapid expansion of the field and the institutional evisceration of the warrant officer as a technical expert.

    Luckily, technology allows cherry HUMINT'ers to reach out for advice and assistance to the broader field. However, there are more appropriate channels - both officially sanctioned and informal to do this than on a public discussion forum. And even those channels are best simply to network and find the best resources; discussions of value tend to take place off-line.

  10. #30
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Yet another indictment of the Personnel system and our short term focus.

    Shame it is that. Scary, too..

    Many thanks for a succinct and informative explanation. I wondered if there was a branch peculiar problem and see that there is. Given all that, the advice for him to seek out senior folks was well advised. The which I never doubted...

  11. #31
    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jedburgh View Post
    Unfortunately, I know of times/places in both OEF/OIF where such a statement from a military interrogator would be truth, as perceived from a narrow range of experience.

    Interrogators with no experience outside of Huachuca, placed across from difficult sources for which the rote interrogation training they've had did not effectively prepare them, will sometimes resort to questionable methods out of frustration. This is due to failures in leadership and training; the two are inextricably linked.

    Even supposedly experienced interrogators will sometimes tread down the same mistaken path - it all depends on the nature of that experience and the character of the interrogator. A difficult interrogation is an intense experience for both the source and the interrogator - and as with other high-pressure situations, it can either bring out the best or the worst in a person. When leadership and oversight is lacking, it often tends to be the latter.

    You can find some of that sort of thing in The Interrogators. The book fails to provide any substantive lessons with regard to interrogation, but it does illustrate the failure to prepare (failures in leadership and training) that particular group of interrogators for the nature of the mission at hand.

    Even sadder is that some of those for whom this is "ground truth" are currently serving.
    That really hurts. No doubt that the TV audience for "24" and "Numbers" are buying the b.s. and then growing up to be interrogators. But the amount of liars out there who tell interrogation stories are manifold, too.

  12. #32
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    Default On the plus side

    (but confirming some of the negatives as well) is a recent book by former SSG Eric Maddox, the interrogator who unearthed Saddam Hussein, entitled, MISSION BLACKLIST #1. Eric is now a DoD civilian interrogator who follows in a line that flows from COL Stuart Herrington.

    Cheers

    JohnT

  13. #33
    Council Member mhusband's Avatar
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    I was listening to CSPAN a couple of months ago and they had a former CIA agent giving testimony about his experiences with interrogation of some of the 9/11 and Taliban captives.

    In the session with the congressmen he stated that for you to get actionable intelligence quickly it is far better to "out whit" the captive than use coercive techniques which is what many captives are trained to withstand.

  14. #34
    Council Member rborum's Avatar
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    dritalin - I wrote one of the chapters you refer to in the "Educing Information" report. Others have offered the wisdom of their experience in their here (and there are some very experienced HUMINTers among them). In the HUMINT world that experience is remarkably valuable.

    Having said that, anecdotes are dominating the public debate about intelligence interviewing. Some people are saying "I know a case where a guy was subjected to X and then he talked." Does that mean that X works?

    My I re-frame your question a bit? Instead of trying to decide "what works better with Afghan EPWs", it might be useful to think about how you would develop a plan to determine what kind of approaches might be more or less successful with a particular detainee, from whom you are seeking particular kinds of information, in a particular context. Whether a strategy "works" is not simply a matter of whether a detainee "talks" or provides information. The objective is accurate, useful information in a strategically-relevant timeframe. It is certainly possible to create conditions in the interrogation that interfere with the accuracy of information.

    Regarding the use of coercive techniques, the FM sets the ground rules for now. Those techniques do not appear to have a promising future in US interrogation policy. I did a recent book chapter with a couple of colleagues on recent trends in US interrogation policy and practice which I have on my SelectedWorks, if you're interested: http://works.bepress.com/randy_borum/ (Jedburgh - I hope providing this link does not violate the forum's ROE. If so, let me know and I will remove it. I was just trying to be responsive to the RFI - Thank you, sir)

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    Quote Originally Posted by rborum View Post
    ....Regarding the use of coercive techniques, the FM sets the ground rules for now. Those techniques do not appear to have a promising future in US interrogation policy. I did a recent book chapter with a couple of colleagues on recent trends in US interrogation policy and practice which I have on my SelectedWorks, if you're interested: http://works.bepress.com/randy_borum/ (I hope providing this link does not violate the forum's ROE. If so, let me know and I will remove it. I was just trying to be responsive to the RFI)
    Randy - many of the board members have their own websites and blogs, and the board admins and moderators do not have an issue with any of them discussing/linking their own material in the context of an ongoing discussion or in response to an RFI. It is only when someone comes to the board and their only participation is to throw up links to their own stuff that it is considered equivalent to spam.

    Back to the discussion, your point that interrogators should develop a plan to determine what kind of approaches might be more or less successful with a particular detainee, from whom you are seeking particular kinds of information, in a particular context, is very important. Interrogation is all about nuance and fine specifics; any general one-size-fits-all approach that is claimed to be effective is a gross misrepresentation of the case. Of course, human beings being what they are, even interrogators trained to understand nuance and fine specifics can get lazy over time and end up approaching every source with their preferred method, ignoring indicators that it won't succeed. That is why in most of my discussions of the subject I continually stress the necessity of leadership involvement, continual professional development and sustained mentoring for the development of an effective core interrogation capability.

    Looking at your website, I just realized that the paper Interviewing Al-Qaeda-related subjects: A law enforcement perspective is a slightly modified version of the NCIS paper Interviewing & Interrogating Militant Islamists: A Law Enforcement Perspective - by the same authors, of course. A bit over two years ago I wrote a rambling, informal review of the latter piece here.

    Ted

  16. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jedburgh View Post
    Looking at your website, I just realized that the paper Interviewing Al-Qaeda-related subjects: A law enforcement perspective is a slightly modified version of the NCIS paper Interviewing & Interrogating Militant Islamists: A Law Enforcement Perspective - by the same authors, of course. A bit over two years ago I wrote a rambling, informal review of the latter piece here.
    Ted - First - thanks for the clarification on the protocol for links. I get it, and appreciate your patience with my learning curve.

    Thanks also for pointing me to your thoughtful analysis/review of our interim NCIS report back in 2007. It's always encouraging to hear that ideas we put out are making sense and that many of us are fundamentally on the same page as we move forward on the interrogation issue. A number of those involved in the "Educing Information" project are currently working to promote an initiative for the US - in partnership with our allies - to become world leaders in non-coercive interrogation/intelligence interviewing over the next 5-10 years.

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    Default Follow up to Educing Information

    Found this on an occassionally used website: http://jiox.blogspot.com/ and this NDIC paper 'Interrogation: WW2, Vietnam & Iraq (2008): http://www.dia.mil/college/pubs/pdf/12010.pdf

    Dropped here as it is a current thread, although not Afghan-specific.

    Started to skim through, so may add more later. Some great parts, including an Israeli viewpoint and this quote:

    The maximum opportunity for intelligence gathering comes in the first hours after an arrest, before others in a group can possibly know that their walls have been breached. The bottom line is fear works. The best way to use this fear is when it is genuine and originates with the source. Fear that is not introduced artificially, but originates solely in the mind of the prisoner, is the most effective.
    .

    davidbfpo
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-29-2009 at 12:41 PM. Reason: Add comment and quote.

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    The course hasn't gotten much better. I went through the 10 level course as a reclass last year. I met other NCOs who couldn't do the basics of the job and had to be recycled -- we had Warrant Officer reclassers that were recycled. Two of my peers couldn't ID OBL from a photo.

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    Default One stop interrogation & interviewing resource

    Moderators Note: See Post 2 to explain why this appears!

    this suggestion:

    from Jedburgh
    Wonder how much they paid those "experts"? All they needed to do was ask a few old, experienced HUMINT NCOs. The best advice in the world, for free. Read my posts on interrogation.
    Not being one to lightly disregard your advice (), here are the threads I found (using Advanced Search on interrogation and Jedburgh as poster):

    A Lesson About Torture, Half Century On

    Profusion of Rebel Groups Helps Them Survive

    Terrorism in Indonesia

    U.S. Army Adds Interrogators

    Republican Revolt over interrogation techniques?

    It's the Tribes, Stupid

    Battlefield Ethics

    It's Our Cage, Too - links to three threads on torture and interrogation in this post.

    Advisers Fault Harsh Methods in Interrogation http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=9446

    Extraordinary Rendition

    HUMINT-Centric Ops

    Fort Hunt's Quiet Men Break Silence on WWII

    Semantic Search Engine as a model for Intel Analysis tool

    Rendition in the Southern Cone: Operation Condor

    "Face" among the Arabs

    Iran in the News

    Stalin World?

    Gitmo and the lawyers!

    Revising FM 3-24: What needs to change?

    Screening for Interrogation

    Hamas in Gaza

    Iran and Iraq

    35M school, Camp Williams UT

    Interrogation in Afghanistan

    Not to turn this into a Jedburgh Appreciation Page (), but the above threads contain multiple good links and comments by Ted and others.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-09-2010 at 02:13 PM. Reason: Edited slightly

  20. #40
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default One stop interrogation resource

    Interrogation irregularly features on SWC and an in-house, ex-military expert is Jedburgh whose contributions have been assembed by JMM recently. I thought it worthy of putting his posts / threads in one place for future use.
    davidbfpo

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