The FBI Wants to "Advance the Science of Interrogation"

Some ideas can't help but sound creepy. Like the FBI's new call for research which aims "to advance the science and practice of intelligence interviewing and interrogation." But what the hell does that mean?

The call for research actually comes from the High Value Detainee Interrogation Group—part of the FBI that generally keeps itself to itself. It's a specialist unit that prides itself on using the most advanced methods of interrogation to elicit information from detainees, most commonly about terrorist attacks.

This new call for research, then, is a way of ensuring that its methods stay firmly at the cutting edge. In particular, it details some specific areas of interest:

  • Surveys and structured interviews of interrogators, intelligence interviewers and debriefers specified by the Government in order to document what these operational personnel think works and does not work and the development of operationally-based best practices which may be later investigated via laboratory or field studies;
  • Development, testing and evaluation of metrics for assessing the efficacies of interrogations, intelligence interviews and debriefs and of the use of particular interrogation, intelligence interview and debrief strategies and methods;
  • Field quasi-experimental studies to evaluate the efficacy of new evidence-based interrogation, intelligence interview and debrief strategies and methods;
  • Laboratory studies to test and/or discover new interrogation, intelligence interview and debrief methods;
  • Laboratory or field studies to assess the validity of evidence-based interviewing, deception detection, and other relevant principles and/or methods across non-U.S. populations both with and without the use of interpreters;
  • Laboratory or field studies on fundamental psychological processes (to include but not be limited to decision-making, emotion, motivation, memory, persuasion, social identities and social development) as these are relevant to interrogations, intelligence interviews and debriefs;
  • Laboratory or field studies of interpersonal processes (e.g., social influence, persuasion, negotiation, conflict resolution and management), with particular attention to cultural and intercultural issues.

All of which makes the whole thing seem very technical, scientific and straight-down-the-line. How it translates to practice, well, that's probably best not thought about in too much detail. [FBI via Layer 8]

Image by Chris.Yasick under Creative Commons license