How to interrogate someone


… and at which point during the story-telling does the freedoming (i.e. torture = human rights abuse) start?


Sorry… I’ll show myself out!


We’ve been binging NYPD Blue on Prime lately. The focus of the show is the interrogations (well, other than Andy’s ever-evolving character, a rotating cast of partners for him and the social issues that surround the squad…) and you can see all of these used and how they play out in every case. They also have plenty of times where some FBI asshole, or shitty cop from another squad muscles their way in and bungles the interview through their lack of knowledge of these principles.


best interrogation technique? become friends with your target. trust is the most easily exploited emotion.

Case in point:

The most successful interrogation of an Al-Qaeda operative by
U.S. officials required no sleep deprivation, no slapping or “walling”
and no waterboarding. All it took to soften up Abu Jandal, who had been
closer to Osama bin Laden than any other terrorist ever captured, was a
handful of sugar-free cookies.


sadists should never be in charge of interrogations. people with empathy (and a slight twisted bent) should.

does this make me a bad person? (ah ah ah, @OtherMichael, this point has not been definitively answered!!)

But isn’t the answer definitely well-known?

Dont logically-spin-me-around, i will interrogate you with cookies, ice cream, and a sensual back massage (Enya in the background, of course).


back on topic, interrogation is a curious subject. for example:

if you captured me, i would freely answer your questions.

if you captured my brother, he would launch into paranoid delusions.

if you captured a particular friend of mine, he would claim He Didn’t Do It, and doesn’t know who did, and where is his lawyer.

If you captured a psychologist, they would answer everything with a question.

If you captured a violent extremist, all you would get is ideology and justifications.

but all of these defensive tacks break down when both parties are humanized. when you remove the power imbalance, secrets come tumbling out. how many people, even in just corp america, have been in an imbalanced relationship with someone, told the truth, and was told they were untruthful? (a lot, i suspect)

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The question is: Do we want accurate information or the satisfaction of forcing an enema on a purported freedom-hater?


I have information you need. Information you don’t know. Come, massage it out of me. Enya really helps me open up. Ice cream-boarding sounds like a fantastic technique.

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In all seriousness when you determine someone is a narcissist, psychopath, or sociopath you change strategy. But that is 0.1% of the population. Shit, you don’t torture someone, you get actors inside the prison system to befriend your mark and extract your Intel. It is literally Barnum and Bailey 101.

And again, you don’t attack the hard nodes. If Khalid isn’t talking, you extract Intel from a subordinate. Listen to Khalid’s grumbles and follow that lead.

I promise you, I can find a way to make you tell me anything. Attacking a trust relationship will actually get you the truth.

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This is gonna come off as insulting, but it really isn’t.

If I ask you if you have experience in the security sector and you say Yes, I will either table flip or slam my head on a table.

You never attack an adversaries strengths, unless you know absolutely it isn’t and they don’t know.

You exploit weaknesses and holes in their strategy.

Torture, in very rare cases can work, but dude it is raaare. Solid investigations, cross correlation, and what I sarcastically call “going through the back door” are soo much more effective.

Never attack the front door. Attack the second floor bathroom window. Never wage a war in the middle east by yourself, befriend tribes. Never torture someone, exploit Stockholm syndrome and let them tell you facts.

(Kids, uncle @japhroaig is saying stuff you should never, ever do)

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