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Thread: The US & Interrogation (catch all)

  1. #121
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    A WWII-era piece on interrogation (despite the use of the term "interpreter" in the title) by a Marine Major in the Pacific theater:

    Suggestions for Japanese Interpreters Based on Work in the Field, 17 Jul 43
    First of all I wish to say that every interpreter (I like the word "interviewer" better, for any really efficient interpreter is first and last an interviewer) must be himself. He should not and cannot try to copy or imitate somebody else, or, in the words of the Japanese proverb, he will be like the crow trying to imitate the cormorant catching fish and drowning in the attempt ("U no mane suru karasu mizu ni oboreru"). But of course it goes without saying that the interpreter should be open to suggestions and should be a student of best methods. But his work will be based primarily upon his own character, his own experience, and his own temperament. These three things are of prime importance; strange as it may seem to say so, I think the first and the last are the most important of the three. Based on these three things, he will gradually work out a technique of his own, - his very own, just as a man does in making love to a woman! The comparison is not merely a flip bon mot; the interviewer should be a real wooer!

    What I have to say concretely is divided into two sections: (1) The attitude of the interpreter towards his prisoner; (2) His knowledge and use of the language......
    Major Moran's 1943 memo, despite its age and brevity (just eight pages), remains an insightful and useful read for those interested in interrogation methodology and techniques. As seen in the quote above, Moran focuses on two aspects of interrogation (although he never uses that term in the memo): the attitude of the interrogator towards the source, and the interrogator's knowledge and use of language.

    As he states, the attitude of the interrogator is of primary importance and is critical to success or failure in the interrogation. The discussion of attitude in this memorandum is specifically focused on Japanese prisoners of war, but this is worth the time no matter what area of interrogation the reader may work or have an interest in. Considerations of environment, culture, physical condition of the source and the nature of the interrogator's character as perceived by the source are critically important to any interrogation.

    Dividing and defining language used in the conduct of interrogation into "knowledge" and "use" is an important point for interrogators to consider, even when working in their native language, but obviously more so when working in a second language. Regarding "knowledge" of language, Moran stresses the importance of idiomatic language, as opposed to technical vocabulary, for rapidly developing rapport and initiating conversation with the source. (Oreste Pinto is another WWII interrogator who has written useful material on the understanding of language in interrogation)

    As for "use" of language, Moran discusses in a simple and general manner concepts of rapport, cognition, questioning methodology and leveraging aspects of culture in questioning. He also describes the difference between empathy and sympathy, and the dangers of the latter, although not in such precise terms.
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 02-16-2013 at 05:24 PM.

  2. #122
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    Default A very fine book on how to do it right, today,

    is Eric Maddox's MISSION BLACKLIST # 1. It is the story of and by the interrogator who worked with the JSOTF to find Saddam Hussein. The final interrogation - and the only one of the source who knew where Saddam was - took only an hour and forty five minutes without the use of any "enhanced interrogation techniques."

    I had the honor to moderate the panel at OU where Eric Maddox was the featured speaker - other members included a former Deputy DDO, David Edger, Dr. Chris Howard (Lt. Col. USAFR who served at the interrogation facility in Bagram), who is the next President of Hampton Sidney U. Maddox is a 1994 OU political science grad who is now a civilian interrogator for DOD. The book is excellent as was his presentation. He is a thoughtful young man who's service both as a soldier and a civilian is a credit to the Army, DOD, the great state of Oklahoma (he's a Sooner to the core), and the United states of America.

    Cheers

    JohnT
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 04-06-2009 at 02:44 AM. Reason: Added link.

  3. #123
    Council Member Boot's Avatar
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    Really interesting stuff, it may have been noted already, and I haven't read through it all, but my questions is who was being interrogated today vs. WW II. Remember the Germans were "western" w/Christian roots so I would guess (just a guess) that the approach for them is different than today. Also even in the Japanese case they are still a nation w/a military and country structure that could be understood. Any thoughts?

  4. #124
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    Default The Marine's paper ....

    on interviewing Japanese prisoners (Jedburgh's last post) seems applicable to AQ-Taliban detainees, who have a very definite and very structured viewpoint - including their Laws of War (as KSM, for instance, has told us).

    I can't imagine doing that myself (with any hope of success) without fluency in the detainee's language and culture. Others may be more able to work via an intermediary.

    Besides that, this from Jedburgh's first post:

    ... prepared for four to six hours for each hour of questioning ...
    seems as important - not a bad trial prep vs trial time ratio on average.

  5. #125
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    This also seems very pertinent:

    The questioners at Fort Hunt, Va., “had graduate degrees in law and philosophy, spoke the language flawlessly,”
    Do current interrogators have qualifications approaching these? I honestly have no idea, but I would suspect not. That's a rare combination, and necessarily expensive. Also I expect people holding these kind of credentials today would be less inclined, on average, to volunteer for this sort of work than those from the 40's.
    He cloaked himself in a veil of impenetrable terminology.

  6. #126
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevely
    This also seems very pertinent:

    The questioners at Fort Hunt, Va., “had graduate degrees in law and philosophy, spoke the language flawlessly,”

    Do current interrogators have qualifications approaching these? I honestly have no idea, but I would suspect not. That's a rare combination, and necessarily expensive. Also I expect people holding these kind of credentials today would be less inclined, on average, to volunteer for this sort of work than those from the 40's.
    The focus at Ft. Hunt was strategic interrogation/debriefing, often of an S&T nature, which is quite different from tactical interrogation. Some of the people today who are working comparable strategic HUMINT do possess advanced degrees or equivalent high-level knowledge of the subject matter. Some don't. However, the ability of a HUMINT professional at the strategic level to attend intense short courses on pertinent subject matter, and to reach out to the IC for planning & prep, far exceeds anything available during WWII.

    And, yes, it is unquestionable that the substantial difference in national focus on the mission is far less today than it was during WWII, with the result that we're not pulling in the best possible people from across the civil spectrum into military mission areas in the same manner that we did back when the entire nation was at war. However, although it seems at times we have far too many amateurs working critical missions of this sort, we do have some very bright and talented young men and women doing great work out there.
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 02-16-2013 at 05:21 PM.

  7. #127
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    Default Vietnam POW interrogation

    The article appeared in 2006 on the CIA's website and published journal website (which I occassionally check) and does not appear to have found its way here before: https://www.cia.gov/library/center-f...article06.html

    The POW was held by the South Vietnamese and USA, who used different techniques and is worth reading IMHO. I note Frank Snepp was his last US interrogator.

    Yes, an old thread comes back again.

    davidbfpo

  8. #128
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    Default Fascinating article, David, and ....

    an interesting conclusion:

    This brings me back to my college classmate's question. The answer I gave him--one in which I firmly believe--is that we, as Americans, must not let our methods betray our goals. I am not a moralist. War is a nasty business, and one cannot fight a war without getting one's hands dirty. I also do not believe that the standards set by the ACLU and Amnesty International are the ones we Americans must necessarily follow. There is nothing wrong with a little psychological intimidation, verbal threats, bright lights and tight handcuffs, and not giving a prisoner a soft drink and a Big Mac every time he asks for them. There are limits, however, beyond which we cannot and should not go if we are to continue to call ourselves Americans. America is as much an ideal as a place and physical torture of the kind used by the Vietnamese (North as well as South) has no place in it. Thus, extracting useful information from today's committed radicals--like Nguyen Tai in his day--remains a formidable challenge.
    Snepp, in Decent Interval, gives us his perception of his interrogation of Tai. Have to re-read that one when I get back home tonite.

  9. #129
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    Default No to torture

    An ex-FBI interrogator has appeared in a NYT op-ed: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/23/op...=2&ref=opinion and a Time article: http://www.time.com/time/nation/arti...893679,00.html

    davidbfpo
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-25-2009 at 05:07 PM. Reason: Add links

  10. #130
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    Default A little Googling will raise some questions about his

    tale. Not least, the DOJ Inspector General Report and Mr. Soufan are at variance. LINK. Start at PDF Page 110. Gibson and Thomas were pseudonyms. No way to tell which was actually Soufran but either way the dates do not match. There are other inconsistencies. Both the IG Report and Soufran could be telling the truth as they know it; either or both could be obfuscating for various reasons. Regardless, the dichotomy raises questions. Or should.

    Mr. Soufran has a checkered history. He's doing well today, though LINK. I can thank him for his service, wish him well -- and still be skeptical. For several reasons.

    The long running FBI - CIA feud among other things...

  11. #131
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    tale. Not least, the DOJ Inspector General Report and Mr. Soufan are at variance. LINK. Start at PDF Page 110. Gibson and Thomas were pseudonyms. No way to tell which was actually Soufran but either way the dates do not match.
    "Gibson" reportedly underwent US Army SERE. Ali Soufan, to my knowledge, never served. Do the service SERE schools accommodate other agencies?
    PH Cannady
    Correlate Systems

  12. #132
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    Default Yes. But...

    Quote Originally Posted by Presley Cannady View Post
    "Gibson" reportedly underwent US Army SERE. Ali Soufan, to my knowledge, never served. Do the service SERE schools accommodate other agencies?
    As do other nations. The services also cross feed each others schools, primarily with to be designated instructors in a share the wealth effort but there a few others for various reasons.

    The 'But' is that I do not know of any FBI types attending the Army school though several other agencies do. That doesn't mean no FBI types did attend, just not to my knowledge. Yet again an indicator I do not know more than I do know...

  13. #133
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    Default Ex-CIA case officers comment

    An intriguing, short article (with no Google research) that adds to the insight available: http://blogs.cqpolitics.com/spytalk/...reve.html#more

    davidbfpo

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    The civilian, tax paying jury is still out on some of this especially when a high value, known operative is taken and real time operational intel can be gleaned. We don't cotton to soft beds, soothing music and warm hugs insuring our national security and we have the luxary of turning a blind eye to the activities of the Syrians, Jordanians and Egyptians as they lend a 'helping hand' - we sleep quite well at night in this respect.

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    Redacted version of the formerly TS 7 May 04 CIA IG Report on Counterterrorism Detention and Interrogation Activities, September 2001 - October 2003 is now released to the public.

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    So what do you take out of that report Jed?

  17. #137
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    Default Krulak and Hoar on Cheney

    Fear was no excuse to condone torture
    CHARLES C. KRULAK and JOSEPH P. HOAR
    Miami Herald (H/T to Tom Ricks)

    In the fear that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Americans were told that defeating Al Qaeda would require us to ``take off the gloves.'' As a former commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps and a retired commander-in-chief of U.S. Central Command, we knew that was a recipe for disaster.

    But we never imagined that we would feel duty-bound to publicly denounce a vice president of the United States, a man who has served our country for many years. In light of the irresponsible statements recently made by former Vice President Dick Cheney, however, we feel we must repudiate his dangerous ideas -- and his scare tactics.

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    Default Krulak-Hoar link ..

    was posted by Fuchs in War Crimes - and my two centavos in response is here.

    Hey Mike, not a cross-posting, since the article applies to both threads.

    Cheers

    Mike

  19. #139
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
    was posted by Fuchs in War Crimes - and my two centavos in response is here.

    Hey Mike, not a cross-posting, since the article applies to both threads.

    Cheers

    Mike
    Thanks Mike. I just read through your replies. For the record, I'll add this to my newly generated list of Mike's Rules:

    Torture is a tool for the intellectually challenged. Torture be dumb.

    v/r

    Mike

  20. #140
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    To which you could add my corollary:

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
    Torture is a tool for the intellectually challenged. Torture be dumb.
    "Which is why it is used by bureaucrats in an endless series of forms rather than physical - Attack the soul, not the body!"
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

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