Episode 149 S4-25
Battle for the South Ch 25
James worked in the Air-force as a Human Intelligence Collector, basically a fancy name for an interrogator. He completed six and a half months of training in a joint operation with the Army about how to acquire information from hostile folks who don't want to talk with you. He has logged over two thousand hours of interrogation time with Al-Quada members many of whom have escaped imprisonment and are not top ISIS members.
James explains that there are many types of interrogation techniques. They range from police and law enforcement activities to military combatant interrogation to finding out what your teenager is thinking. Interrogation is sitting and talking with people, asking the right types of questions, and reading the person's responses: facial expressions, tone, demeanor, etc. Then making an appropriate judgement call about the truthfulness of that answer. You have to be able to discern if there are signs or tells, indicating the accurateness of the response. Interrogation can be aggressive or passive.
No matter how good you get at reading people or the study of Kinesis, you must not be over-confident in your abilities. Informants can be misleading. Pathological liars can be truthful in small areas but very hard to read on the whole. Some folks are just naturally shifty because of the circumstances they grew up in or the environment they are forced to survive in. That doesn't mean they are always untruthful. Situations can cause you to be deceptive and hide emotions.
Interrogation methods are important to learn because we use them everyday. Your ability to ascertain information from someone else can improve your skills at interacting with people. This can help you achieve whatever goal in your personal life or career you are looking to achieve. Learning human interaction tendencies and traits can make help you complete more sales or be a better leader. You will learn to better understand people and have the skills to manipulate them. This doesn't have to be a bad thing. How many times do we pass by someone on the street and ask them, "how's it going?" Do you perceive what is really going on with them or are you satisified with the, "fine," that is commonly given as a response? Finding out what is under the surface of someone's responses can help you to help them.
In a long term survival scenario information will be a valuable commodity after food, water, shelter, etc. are established. Knowing what is going on around you and how to react will be absolutely essential. Rumors will spread rapidly and take on a life of their own that evolves every time the story is told. Knowing how to ask pointed questions, direct questions, and close ended questions to find out essential information will determine your fight or flight reactions.
You also have to learn to ascertain information without becoming overbearing or obvious. When people think that you are being too forward you invoke emotions and raise their defenses. This will be essential if you encounter a new community and have to determine if they are a friend or foe. You can actually find out very quickly. However, without an understanding of basic human concepts and how to ask the right types of questions and the ability to discern the answers properly liars can take advantage of you.
If you are approached by a vulnerable individual there are a few questions you want to ask to judge their truthfulness. Where is the individual from? How long has she been on her own? How did he get to where he currently is in life? What drew her in to talk to you? How did he find you?
What did she do prior to the event? You need to find out if people possess skills you can use.
When you are asking the questions mentioned above use the Circle Questioning Technique. Using this will help you develop a baseline of truth. First ask a "money" question. Then ask 2-3 benign questions. Then ask a "money" question and repeat. For example ask, "Where are you from" and listen to the response. Then ask "What did you do before?" and listen to the answer. Then ask what happened here, and what happened there. Then return to the question of where are you from and what did you do. Employing this technique makes they think on various avenues and areas. If the money questions don't match each time you ask them then you know it's not true. Use this when meeting new people or communities.
Each time you encounter someone you have an opportunity for an informational exchange. Do you know something they should know? If so ask a question that they should already know the answer to. They should respond with a correct answer, if not, you know something is off.
If you are being interrogated try to figure out exactly what they want to know. Then determine how detrimental giving up that information is to you and your group. For example, if they only want to know how big your group is give them the answer. They don't need to know about how much food or ammo you have. The interrogators won't find out as long as you don't give them a reason to be suspicious and probe deeper and introduce more tools. If the answer you give is not detrimental to your group or yourself be truthful. If you are going to lie make your lie as similar as possible to reality. If you give a close answer you will be more inclined to recall the answer you provided. If you are caught lying it is likely that their interrogation tools will increase and that would be a bad thing in a long term survival situation. The tools are likely to be very mid-evil as most people won't have access to a lot of the pharmaceutical options deployed today.
Pharmaceuticals are used often in interrogation proceedings. Drugs like Ativan or a derivative reduce your inhibitions. They make the interviewee very relaxed and carefree. They talk a lot in this euphoric state. On the flip side there are drugs that induce pain and can make a person's nervous system feel like it is on fire. However, pain is not as effective as Hollywood producers make it out to be. Pleasure crates a more open environment. When you first encounter a new individual it may not be a bad idea to intoxicate them to judge the truthfulness of their statements.
Torture is effective but only in certain situations. In a long term interrogation process it is useless. Plus every time you receive an answer you will have to wonder about its validity. Many people will say whatever you want them to as long as the pain stops. Remember, you want people to willingly or unwittingly give up the information. The problem with retrieving information this way is it is really hard to master and takes a long time to learn and perform. Torture, while not as effective, has its uses. For example, in a quick tactical environment.
Determining if torture is ethically acceptable comes down to your individual definition of what torture is. James does not consider water boarding torture because it is not physically harming the interviewee. You are not burning, breaking, cutting, scarring or hurting their body physically in any way. Water boarding makes the individual believe they are being drowned. It is a physiological tool and mental tools are very effective. Physically harming an individual usually does not produce effective results and therefor there is no reason to choose it over physiological options.
There are lots of types of interrogation methods that can cause people to give false confessions. For the most part people are weak minded and impatient. They will say anything to get out of an uncomfortable situation and move on. Long term tactics are more often employed by police or law enforcement with a false hope of being released. The military operates much different. They are not concerned with an individual's guilt level. They are looking for additional information so they can capture and kill the people that the individual is working for or with. The military interrogators are not after confessions they are looking to capture and/or kill individuals comprising the "food chain" of the operation.
People being threatened by dictatorial leaders often give up a lot of information as long as they know that whatever the dictator and his followers were threatening is safe. Usually the leaders will be the will be the most difficult to get information from. Sometimes they will make a deal and give up a piece of the pie but rarely to they give you the whole thing.
There are many ways you can learn interrogation tactics and put the techniques into practice. James's book Interview with a Terrorist is a great place to start. Beyond that there are training classes available and case studies available for study as well. This is a great way to see what to employ in everyday approaches. You can find out what worked and what didn't and first hand accounts is the only way to obtain that knowledge. Investigate civilian and military perspectives to gain a complete understanding.
Featured Quote From Today's Chapter:
"What do you feed that dog? His butt stinks."