Interrogation is interview
An interview is a conversation between two people where questions are asked by the interviewer to obtain information from the interviewee.- Interview as a Method for Qualitative Research:"Definition" -...

ing as commonly employed by officers of the police
The police is a personification of the state designated to put in practice the enforced law, protect property and reduce civil disorder in civilian matters. Their powers include the legitimized use of force...

, military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

, and Intelligence agencies with the goal of extracting a confession or obtaining information. Subjects of interrogation are often the suspects, victims, or witnesses of a crime. Interrogation may involve a diverse array of techniques, ranging from developing a rapport with the subject to outright torture
Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...


Interrogation techniques

There are multiple techniques employed in interrogation including deception, torture, increasing suggestibility, and the use of mind-altering drugs.


A person's suggestibility
Suggestibility is the quality of being inclined to accept and act on the suggestions of others.A person experiencing intense emotions tends to be more receptive to ideas and therefore more suggestible. Generally, suggestibility decreases as age increases...

 is how willing they are to accept and act on suggestions by others. Interrogators seek to increase a subject's suggestibility. Methods used to increase suggestibility may include moderate sleep deprivation, exposure to constant white noise
White noise
White noise is a random signal with a flat power spectral density. In other words, the signal contains equal power within a fixed bandwidth at any center frequency...

, and using GABA
Gamma-aminobutyric acid
γ-Aminobutyric acid is the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter in the mammalian central nervous system. It plays a role in regulating neuronal excitability throughout the nervous system...

ergic drugs such as sodium amytal or sodium thiopental
Sodium thiopental
Sodium thiopental, better known as Sodium Pentothal , thiopental, thiopentone sodium, or Trapanal , is a rapid-onset short-acting barbiturate general anaesthetic...



Deception, beguilement, deceit, bluff, mystification, bad faith, and subterfuge are acts to propagate beliefs that are not true, or not the whole truth . Deception can involve dissimulation, propaganda, and sleight of hand. It can employ distraction, camouflage or concealment...

 can form an important part of effective interrogation. In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, there is no law or regulation that forbids the interrogator from lying about the strength of their case, from making misleading statements or from implying that the interviewee has already been implicated in the crime by someone else.

As noted above, traditionally the issue of deception is considered from the perspective of the interrogator engaging in deception towards the individual being interrogated. Recently, work completed regarding effective interview methods used to gather information from individuals who score in the medium to high range on measures of psychopathology and are engaged in deception directed towards the interrogator have appeared in the literature

The importance of allowing the psychopathic interviewee to tell one lie after another and not confront until all of the lies have been presented is essential when the goal is to use the interview to expose the improbable statements made during the interview in future court proceedings.

Reid technique

The Reid technique
Reid technique
The Reid technique is a method of questioning subjects and assessing their credibility. The technique consists of a non-accusatory interview combining both investigative and behavior-provoking questions...

 is a trademarked interrogation technique widely used by law enforcement agencies in North America. The technique (which requires interrogators to watch the body language of suspects to detect deceit) has been criticized for being difficult to apply across cultures and eliciting false confessions from innocent people.


Interrogations may involve torture
Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...

. When torture is employed in interrogation, the first thing the interrogator typically does is to speculate on the type of information s/he would like to extract from the subject. This assists the interrogator in creating a benchmark that the subject must meet in order to end the painful or uncomfortable conditions that occur in torture.

The process of using torture to extract this targeted information may have three possible outcomes. The first is that the subject knows nothing and provides made-up information or a false confession
False confession
A false confession is an admission of guilt in a crime in which the confessor is not responsible for the crime. False confessions can be induced through coercion or by the mental disorder or incompetency of the accused...

 in order to cause the torture to stop; the second is that the subject has the information that the interrogator seeks but is able to "hold out" or divert the interrogators attention with false information (which can be misconstrued for the previous outcome mentioned); and the third is that the subject capitulates under torture and offers the interrogator truthful information. Interrogation has yielded all three results. However, much controversy surrounds the process of torture because of both its human rights implications and the fact that it remains possible that an innocent person can be tortured. When the subject of torture doesn't actually have information or is innocent, the subject may provide a false confession. If not, that individual must bear with the procedures with the knowledge that s/he cannot stop it. Many human rights organizations and political figures have spotlighted these facts. They have pointed out that torture carries the possibility of being ineffective in extracting accurate information. However, this is true of all interrogation techniques.

The debate over these advantages and disadvantages of torture continues to this day. Nonetheless, clarity has been made in the torture debate over the differences between instances of torture that are used in different contexts. To this end, Richard Posner
Richard Posner
Richard Allen Posner is an American jurist, legal theorist, and economist who is currently a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago and a Senior Lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School...

, a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, has argued, "If torture is the only means of obtaining the information necessary to prevent the detonation of a nuclear bomb
Ticking time bomb scenario
The ticking time bomb scenario is a thought experiment that has been used in the ethics debate over whether torture can ever be justified.Simply stated, the consequentialist argument is that nations, even those such as the United States that legally disallow torture, can justify its use if they...

 in Times Square, torture should be used—and will be used—to obtain the information. ... no one who doubts that this is the case should be in a position of responsibility."

United Kingdom

British legislation that applies to interrogation activities include:
  • Human Rights Act 1998
    Human Rights Act 1998
    The Human Rights Act 1998 is an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom which received Royal Assent on 9 November 1998, and mostly came into force on 2 October 2000. Its aim is to "give further effect" in UK law to the rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights...

  • Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000
    Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000
    The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, regulating the powers of public bodies to carry out surveillance and investigation, and covering the interception of communications...

  • Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001
    Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001
    The Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 was formally introduced into the Parliament of the United Kingdom on 19 November 2001, two months after the terrorist attacks on New York on 11 September. It received royal assent and came into force on 14 December 2001...

  • Terrorism Act 2006
    Terrorism Act 2006
    The Terrorism Act 2006 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that received Royal Assent on 30 March 2006, after being introduced on 12 October 2005. The Act creates new offences related to terrorism, and amends existing ones. The Act was drafted in the aftermath of the 7 July 2005...

All police officers are trained in interview techniques during basic training, further training in detailed interviewing or specialist interviewing is received in specialist or advanced courses, such as criminal investigation
-Criminal investigation:* Criminal Investigation Department, the branch of British police forces and many other Commonwealth police forces to which plain clothes detectives belong...

, fraud investigation or child protection.

Military interrogation takes two forms, Tactical Questioning or Detailed Interviewing. Tactical Questioning is the initial screening of detainees, Detailed Interviewing takes place is the more advanced questioning of subjects.

Training for all personnel engaged in both TQ and DI takes place at the Defence Intelligence and Security Centre
Defence Intelligence and Security Centre
Defence Intelligence and Security Centre is the location of the Headquarters of both the Defence College of Intelligence and the British Army Intelligence Corps...

, Chicksands.

British military personnel were found to have misused a number of techniques during the detention of suspects in Northern Ireland in the early 1970s. Investigations into these techniques resulted in the publication of policy directives that prohibited the use of hooding, stress positions or wall-standing, noise, sleep deprivation and deprivation of food and drink.

During the early stages of Operation Telic in Iraq during 2003 and 2004 some infantry units have been found to have applied these techniques in contravention of standing orders.

The use of torture is explicitly prohibited however Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have accused officers of the British Intelligence and Security Services of being at least complicit in the extraction of information from subjects under torture by second parties.


Cold War

War On Terror

Torture has never been authorized or permitted for use at Guantanamo Bay
Guantanamo Bay detainment camp
The Guantanamo Bay detention camp is a detainment and interrogation facility of the United States located within Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba. The facility was established in 2002 by the Bush Administration to hold detainees from the war in Afghanistan and later Iraq...

 or any other U.S. Department of Defense detention/internment/prisoner of war facility on any person be they an enemy prisoner of war, detainee, retainee, protected person, lawful or unlawful enemy combatant though there have been people who have reported being tortured at Guantanamo Bay. Several interrogation techniques used at Guantanamo Bay were specifically defined by the Bush administration as "not torture", though most international observers and historical precedent disagree. These techniques include waterboarding
Waterboarding is a form of torture in which water is poured over the face of an immobilized captive, thus causing the individual to experience the sensation of drowning...

, a drowning simulation.

Torture, in this context, is a war crime. Specifically, a grave violation of the Law of Land Warfare. War Crimes are punishable under U.S. Code as well as the U.S. Code of Military Justice. There is no statute of limitations for War Crimes. Instances of criminal behavior by military, civilian, and contract personnel of the U.S. Department of Defense has happened and has happened with regard to Geneva Category prisoners and detainees. Criminal behavior in this context may range from mishandling to abuse to torture. Military Commanders investigate rigorously any accusation of prisoner mishandling, abuse, or torture. The military continues to vigorously prosecute any such unlawful activity.

Army regulations and policy have always been clear, the torture or coercion of an enemy prisoner of war during interrogation, or in any other circumstance, is not only unlawful but also an unproductive and unreliable method for gaining information. In addition, US Army interrogation procedures continue to stress that all detained or captured persons will be treated as Geneva Category Enemy Prisoners of War until determined otherwise by a duly constituted military tribunal.

U.S. Air Force General Jack L. Rives
Jack L. Rives
Jack L. Rives is the Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of the American Bar Association, and a former TJAG of the United States Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corps. In 2008, he became the first Judge Advocate General in any service to hold the rank of Lieutenant general...

 (Deputy Judge Advocate General
Judge Advocate General's Corps, U.S. Air Force
The Judge Advocate General's Corps also known as the "JAG Corps" or "JAG" is the legal arm of the United States Air Force.- History :The United States Air Force became a separate military service in September 1947. On 25 June 1948, the Congress established an office of The Judge Advocate General ...

) advised a U.S. government task force that many of the extreme methods of interrogation would leave service personnel open to legal sanction in the U.S. and foreign countries.

Resistance training

Resistance training is often a prerequisite for some military personnel since prisoners of war (POWs) routinely undergo interrogation.

Movement for increased recording of interrogations in the US

Currently, there is a movement for mandatory electronic recording of all custodial interrogations in the United States. "Electronic recording" describes the process of recording interrogations from start to finish. This is in contrast to a "taped" or "recorded confession," which typically only includes the final statement of the suspect. "Taped interrogation" is the traditional term for this process; however, as analog is becoming less and less common, statutes and scholars are referring to the process as "electronically recording" interviews or interrogations. Alaska, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, and Wisconsin are the only states to require taped interrogation. New Jersey’s taping requirement started on January 1, 2006. Massachusetts allows jury instructions that state that the courts prefer taped interrogations. Commander Neil Nelson of the St. Paul Police Department, an expert in taped interrogation, has described taped interrogation in Minnesota as the "best thing ever rammed down our throats."

See also

  • False confession
    False confession
    A false confession is an admission of guilt in a crime in which the confessor is not responsible for the crime. False confessions can be induced through coercion or by the mental disorder or incompetency of the accused...

  • Interrogation of Saddam Hussein
    Interrogation of Saddam Hussein
    The Interrogation of Saddam Hussein began shortly after his December 2003 capture, while the deposed President of Iraq was held at the United States Camp Cropper detention facility at Baghdad International Airport. Beginning in February 2004, the interrogation program, codenamed Operation Desert...

  • Waterboarding
    Waterboarding is a form of torture in which water is poured over the face of an immobilized captive, thus causing the individual to experience the sensation of drowning...

  • Water cure
    Water cure (torture)
    Water cure as a term for a form of torture refers to a method in which the victim is forced to drink large quantities of water in a short time, resulting in gastric distension, water intoxication and possibly death....

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.