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FBI Wants To "Advance the Science of Interrogation" 252

Posted by samzenpus
from the tell-me-everything dept.
coondoggie writes "From deep in the Department of Creepy today I give this item: The FBI this week put out a call for new research 'to advance the science and practice of intelligence interviewing and interrogation.' The part of the FBI that is requesting the new research isn't out in the public light very often: the High Value Detainee Interrogation Group, which according to the FBI was chartered in 2009 by the National Security Council and includes members of the CIA and Department of Defense, to 'deploy the nation's best available interrogation resources against detainees identified as having information regarding terrorist attacks against the United States and its allies.'"
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FBI Wants To "Advance the Science of Interrogation"

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  • Re:1984 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by siddesu (698447) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:17PM (#39668681)
    I am sure they have heard the theory that coercion does not produce useful intelligence. I'd assume they have in mind some kind of truth serum rather than a big basement with torture implements.
  • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:24PM (#39668725)

    Torture is a well known technique, shown to be effective many times in history.

    Yes, I'm sure that those people tortured back then really did practice black magic with the Devil.

    Or maybe torture just gets confessions whether they're factual or not.

  • or... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:26PM (#39668745)

    "against detainees identified as having information regarding terrorist attacks against the United States and its allies."

    or

    "against hacker"

    or

    "against protestors"

    or

    "against any person we deem not conforming for normal standards"

  • by bsane (148894) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:26PM (#39668753)

    Torture is a good way to get people to say what you want them to say. The FBI should be good at finding out what they know- hopefully this is a step towards that. From all accounts they were very good at it pre-war on terror, and they didn't need to resort to water boarding.

  • Already failed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by backslashdot (95548) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:33PM (#39668807)

    If your interrogation program includes torture, you've already failed.

  • Re:1984 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AHuxley (892839) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:47PM (#39668895) Homepage Journal
    Diesel Therapy - moving people around in stress positions with no sleep, food, meds... lost in the system with your lawyer making calls.
    Moving people around the jail system in cold, un cleaned cells for a few days- make a fuss and you get restraints and meds.
    Mix in some pain compliance along the way and lost more paper work...
    You are then found, re united with your family, good legal team and then get a one time offer to sign away years and inform...
    Mix in state and federal, get bail form your state and a face federal case as you walk out ... no refunds.
    Can you still afford that fancy lawyer? Risk a federal court with a 85%+++ conviction rate?
    Now the laws for the "duration of the armed conflict" set in ... welcome to the mystery that could be "indefinite" and a new type of legal team. i.e. "You Don't Get a Lawyer"
  • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:52PM (#39668935) Homepage Journal

    Torture is a well known technique, shown to be effective many times in history.

    Effective, but not for getting information on which to act. It's very effective for scaring the hell out of the tortured and creating at least one more generation of enemies.

    People don't forget when you torture their family members. And you know what? I think I would rather have a religious fanatic as an enemy than someone who has sworn a blood oath to avenge the death of his father. A religious fanatic, after all, is irrational by definition. There is no one more rational than someone who has grown up with the knowledge that you are the guy who tortured his father. He's got all those adolescent years to think about how to kill you, and I can tell you from personal experience that adolescence is a great time for coming up with creative ways to kill people.

    I've spent a fair amount of time in the Balkans, in Serbia, Bosnia, etc. And I can tell you based on observation that when someone gets tortured, you create much worse trouble.

    And then, there's what torture does to the people who torture. Assuming there's a time when the war ends, these are not people who are going to go home and teach high school.

    Torture is ineffective and diminishes the society that condones torture. I still think that the stories that came out last decade are a big part of why American society is so psychotic today. And if someone wants to disagree with me that American society is psychotic, step right up.

  • by Obfuscant (592200) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:56PM (#39668967)

    "Uh, we know what we want to do isn't legal and isn't morally acceptable in a civilized society,...

    Interrogation and intelligence interviews certainly are legal and morally acceptable in a civilized society. Do you think we're supposed to catch bad guys and then say "you sit over there, we aren't going to ask you anything about what your friends are planning because someone told us it wasn't morally acceptable to interview you"? Do you think that other civilized societies don't interrogate anyone?

    What isn't legal or acceptable is torture, and if you read the fine article you'd notice that nothing at all was said about coming up with new and better torture methods, only evaluation existing interrogation methods to see how those could be improved.

    Classifying this as "department of creepy" displays the author's bias. That it comes from NetworkWorld makes as much sense as the Zimmerman story that appeared in slashdot recently. Neither one has any special relevance to nerds or networks.

  • by shentino (1139071) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @11:01PM (#39669007)

    My point still stands...if you are interrogated for information that, if revealed, would tend to incriminate you, the 5th amendment applies.

  • Re:WATER BOARDING (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 12, 2012 @11:07PM (#39669063)

    They aren't trying to cause pain

    You have to keep in mind that there are many people working under them. Some of them may very well want to cause pain to the enemy. Torture is evil and should never be used even if you're 100% certain the person has useful information. I don't care how effective it is.

  • by shentino (1139071) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @11:12PM (#39669089)

    Which is why they grant immunity.

    And please, "winning the war" being used as an excuse to undermine one's civil rights is complete bullshit. Particularly in a war of aggression that we started in the first place.

  • Re:1984 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by paiute (550198) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @11:20PM (#39669163)

    you have some way of verifying the information

    If I can verify information, why am I torturing anyone?

  • by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@g m a il.com> on Thursday April 12, 2012 @11:33PM (#39669239) Homepage Journal

    First off, Godwin's Law. I think it's pretty disrespectful to lump the FBI and Nazi Germany together.

    Secondly, if they were just abusing absolute power and intended to strong-arm everyone, then why bother studying the science of interrogation? You clearly missed my point. The fact that they want to study the science of interrogation pretty much speaks to the opposite of your suggestion.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:03AM (#39669407)

    torture just gets confessions whether they're factual or not.

    Which is the whole point. Nobody cares about the facts except historians. If we can torture enough people so that we can claim with a straight face to have prevented 14,000 suitcase nukes from going off in Toys "R" Us stores across the country, and get it repeated by the credulous press through the election cycle, who the hell cares if it's true? It wins elections, makes money, and makes inconvenient brown people with weird religious beliefs disappear.

    Torture is extremely effective at its purpose. Its purpose is to elicit false confessions. This is not a flaw, this is by design.

  • by Tore S B (711705) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:06AM (#39669435) Homepage
    There is also the not-insignificant dimension of what torture does to the moral standing of those who apply it.

    If you care about moral standing and freedom and that kind of stuff that was supposed to make it a Good Thing that the US won the cold war, that should be quite significant.

    As a Norwegian politically active youth - center-left - I sometimes find myself missing the Soviet Union. Do you have any idea how angry that makes me?
  • Re:1984 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Alex Belits (437) * on Friday April 13, 2012 @01:50AM (#39669979) Homepage

    This only works in movies.

  • by demachina (71715) on Friday April 13, 2012 @02:33AM (#39670159)

    Your interpretation of what happened at Abu Ghraib is flawed at best. It is true that the enlisted people probably did do some things on their own initiative and "for fun" but most of the torture practiced there was doctrine being pushed from the White House and Pentagon. It was happening in Gitmo and Afghanistan too which completely defeats your contention that it was just a few rogue enlisted people in Iraq.

    The use of attack dogs and sexual humiliation were part of Pentagon and CIA directed interrogation techniques. It is fairly predictable that when you order low paid, untrained, poorly supervised, enlisted people, working in a hell hole, to torture and humiliate prisoners in certain ways that they would quickly lose their moral compass and start engaging in progressively more abusive forms of torture and humiliation until you reach the photos from Abu Ghraib. Only way for this abuse to not happen would be to either not allow any of it in the first place which should have been the case or failing that to only have highly trained, disciplined people under strict chain of command doing it who knew exactly where the lines were that they could approach but not cross.

    There were officers who were directing many of the abusive practices at Abu Ghraib who got off scott free because they were doing what they were ordered to do. The Army had to nail someone once the photos hit the news and nailing expendable enlisted soldiers was incredibly easy.

    Officers usually dont take these falls unless they've done something to go off the reservation and to invite the wrath of their superiors like shoot their mouth off to the press. As long as they keep quite and are doing what they were ordered to do they can almost literally get away with murder.

  • by Uberbah (647458) on Friday April 13, 2012 @03:44AM (#39670493)

    However, if the interrogator already has some information, s/he can teach the victim that lying causes pain in a way that saying the truth doesn't. If victims don't know the exact extent of the interrogator's knowledge, they'll be afraid to lie.

    And how does the interrogator tell the difference between withholding information and ignorance?

    They don't, of course. So they apply increasing amounts of pain until they get the answer they want. And you're right back to square one, with the victim saying whatever he things his captors want to hear.

  • by gl4ss (559668) on Friday April 13, 2012 @04:13AM (#39670605) Homepage Journal

    war on terror, war on the devil, war on teen pregnancies, war on drugs, war on jaywalking...there's a war on everything always. that's the problem with that.

    if the interrogation is for a military objective you don't even need 5th amendment. international rules apply, you pretty much only need to state your id and get treated as POW.

  • by ultranova (717540) on Friday April 13, 2012 @06:10AM (#39671069)

    It's funny, but I don't recall that the NKVD, KGB, SMERSH, or other secret police organs of Soviet Power in the USSR worried about blood feuds from torture, or any of that. They simply tortured and killed in staggering numbers.

    And by doing so they turned pretty much everyone against the state, thus leading to the fall of the Soviet Union. So maybe they should had worried about blood feuds a bit more after all.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 13, 2012 @06:28AM (#39671135)

    This is pretty much the whole point. Often they don't really want to hear the truth, they want to hear a 'truth' that supports a decision already made.

    Take a look at the Iraq fiasco. They took a bunch of made-up BS by a guy who they KNEW was making shit up, doctored it to make it look more like what they wanted, and then used it as a pretext for a war that the government had already been planning for some time.

    People often overlook the fact that torture for information is always carried out with a political goal in mind. Anyone who is willing to toture somebody isn't going to be above twisting things to suit their political interests.

  • by TheCarp (96830) <`ten.tenaprac' `ta' `cjs'> on Friday April 13, 2012 @10:37AM (#39673279) Homepage

    Please cite references. Or are you refering to your own personal experience? Don't forget that since the captive must know his captor doesn't have all the information, and could even have distorted info, so even the truth may get him punished if the interrogator thinks its a lie. He is still just learning to say what they want to hear.

    Torture techniques, like many modern less dramatic techniques are seldom aimed at getting the whole truth so much as producing a confession. Even without torture, standard modern interrogation techniques have shown, in testing, to be able to extract a confession 90% of the time, even when the confessor isn't guilty.

    Of course, many of these techniques are simple subtle applications of psychological torture.... you can get considered for bail, or spend your days in here. You can confess to this lesser crime than we say you did, or else face trial for this list of crimes.

    I have seen interviews with military interrogation experts who have said that torture has generally been found to validate the subjects view of his captors and results in less cooperation.

    Far more effective is subtle "befriending". There was a german interrogator who was known for getting a lot of information by taking captured pilots for walks and just....chatting them up casually. Ever seen the police question someone.... Good Cop/Bad Cop is a cliche for a reason. They don't play bad cop bad cop for a reason.

With all the fancy scientists in the world, why can't they just once build a nuclear balm?

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