The CIA's 1963 Torture Manual In Its Entirety, Part III

Josh Clark

B. The Interrogation Plan

Planning for interrogation is more important than the specifics of the plan. Because no two interrogations are alike, the interrogation cannot realistically be planned from A to Z, in all its particulars, at the outset. But it can and must be planned from A to F or A to M. The chances of failure in an unplanned CI interrogation are unacceptably high. Even worse, a "dash-on-regardless" approach can ruin the prospects of success even if sound methods are used later.

The intelligence category to which the subject belongs, though not determinant for planning purposes, is still of some significance. The plan for the interrogation of a traveller differs from that for other types because the time available for questioning is often brief. The examination of his bona fides , accordingly, is often less searching. He is usually regarded as reasonably reliable if his identity and freedom from other intelligence associations have been established, if records checks do not produce derogatory information, if his account of his background is free of omissions or discrepancies suggesting significant withholding, if he does not attempt to elicit information about the questioner or his sponsor, and if he willingly provides detailed information which appears reliable or is established as such.

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Defectors can usually be interrogated unilaterally, at least for a time. Pressure for participation will usually come [approx. 1/2 line deleted] from an ODYOKE intelligence component. The time available for unilateral testing and exploitation should be calculated at the outset, with a fair regard for the rights and interests of other members of the intelligence community. The most significant single fact to be kept in mind when planning the interrogation of Soviet defectors is that a certain percentage of them have proven to be controlled agents; estimates of this percentage have ranged as high as [one or two words deleted] during a period of several years after 1955. (22)

KUBARK's lack of executive powers is especially significant if the interrogation of a suspect agent or of any other subject who is expected to resist is under consideration. As a general rule, it is difficult to succeed in the CI interrogation of a resistant source unless the interrogating service can control the subject and his environment for as long as proves necessary.

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[1/3 of page deleted] C. The Specifics

1. The Specific Purpose

Before questioning starts, the interrogator has clearly in mind what he wants to learn, why he thinks the source has the information, how important it is, and how it can best be obtained. Any confusion here, or any questioning based on the premise that the purpose will take shape after the interrogation is under way, is almost certain to lead to aimlessness and final failure. If the specific goals cannot be discerned clearly, further investigation is needed before querying starts.

2. Resistance

The kind and intensity of anticipated resistance is estimated. It is useful to recognize in advance whether the information desired would be threatening or damaging in any way to the interests of the interrogates. If so, the interrogator should consider whether the same information, or confirmation of it, can be gained from another source. Questioning suspects immediately, on a flimsy factual basis, will usually cause waste of time, not save it. On the other hand, if the needed information is not sensitive from the subject's viewpoint, merely asking for it is usually preferable to trying to trick him into admissions and thus creating an unnecessary battle of wits.

The preliminary psychological analysis of the subject makes it easier to decide whether he is likely to resist and, if so, whether his resistance will be the product of fear that his personal interests will be damaged or the result of the non-cooperative nature of orderly-obstinate and related types. The choice of methods to be used in overcoming resistance is also determined by the characteristics of the interrogatee.

3. The Interrogation Setting

The room in which the interrogation is to be conducted should be free of distractions. The colors of walls, ceiling, rugs, and furniture should not be startling. Pictures should be missing or dull. Whether the furniture should include a desk depends not upon the interrogator's convenience but rather upon the subject's anticipated reaction to connotations of superiority and officialdom. A plain table may be preferable. An overstuffed chair for the use of the interrogatee is sometimes preferable to a straight-backed, wooden chair because if he is made to stand for a lengthy period or is otherwise deprived of physical comfort, the contrast is intensified and increased disorientation results. Some treatises on interrogation are emphatic about the value of arranging the lighting so that its source is behind the interrogator and glares directly at the subject. Here, too, a flat rule is unrealistic. The effect upon a cooperative source is inhibitory, and the effect upon a withholding source may be to make him more stubborn. Like all other details, this one depends upon the personality of the interrogatee.

Good planning will prevent interruptions. If the room is also used for purposes other than interrogation, a "Do Not Disturb" sign or its equivalent should hang on the door when questioning is under way. The effect of someone wandering in because he forgot his pen or wants to invite the interrogator to lunch can be devastating. For the same reason there should not be a telephone in the room; it is certain to ring at precisely the wrong moment. Moreover, it is a visible link to the outside; its presence makes a subject feel less cut-off, better able to resist.

The interrogation room affords ideal conditions for photographing the interrogatee without his knowledge by concealing a camera behind a picture or elsewhere.

If a new safehouse is to be used as the interrogation site, it should be studied carefully to be sure that the total environment can be manipulated as desired. For example, the electric current should be known in advance, so that transformers or other modifying devices will be on hand if needed.

Arrangements are usually made to record the interrogation, transmit it to another room, or do both. Most experienced interrogators do not like to take notes. Not being saddled with this chore leaves them free to concentrate on what sources say, how they say it, and what else they do while talking or listening. Another reason for avoiding note-taking is that it distracts and sometimes worries the interrogatee. In the course of several sessions conducted without note-taking, the subject is likely to fall into the comfortable illusion that he is not talking for the record. Another advantage of the tape is that it can be played back later. Upon some subjects the shock of hearing their own voices unexpectedly is unnerving. The record also prevents later twistings or denials of admissions. [approx. 6 lines deleted] A recording is also a valuable training aid for interrogators, who by this means can study their mistakes and their most effective techniques. Exceptionally instructuve interrogations, or selected portions thereof, can also be used in the training of others.

If possible, audio equipment should also be used to transmit the proceedings to another room, used as a listening post. The main advantage of transmission is that it enables the person in charge of the interrogation to note crucial points and map further strategy, replacing one interrogator with another, timing a dramatic interruption correctly, etc. It is also helpful to install a small blinker bulb behind the subject or to arrange some other method of signalling the interrogator, without the source's knowledge, that the questioner should leave the room for consultation or that someone else is about to enter.

4. The Participants

Interrogatees are normally questioned separately. Separation permits the use of a number of techniques that would not be possible otherwise. It also intensifies in the source the feeling of being cut off from friendly aid. Confrontation of two or more suspects with each other in order to produce recriminations or admissions is especially dangerous if not preceded by separate interrogation sessions which have evoked compliance from one of the interrogatees, or at least significant admissions involving both. Techniques for the separate interrogations of linked sources are discussed in Part IX.

The number of interrogators used for a single interrogation case varies from one man to a large team. The size of the team depends on several considerations, chiefly the importance of the case and the intensity of source resistance. Although most sessions consist of one interrogator and one interrogatee, some of the techniques described later call for the presence of two, three, or four interrogators. The two-man team, in particular, is subject to unintended antipathies and conflicts not called for by assigned roles. Planning and subsequent conduct should eliminate such cross-currents before they develop, especially because the source will seek to turn them to his advantage.

Team members who are not otherwise engaged can be employed to best advantage at the listening post. Inexperienced interrogators find that listening to the interrogation while it is in progress can be highly educational.

Once questioning starts, the interrogator is called upon to function at two levels. He is trying to do two seemingly contradictory things at once: achieve rapport with the subject but remain an essentially detached observer. Or he may project himself to the resistant interrogatee as powerful and ominous (in order to eradicate resistance and create the necessary conditions for rapport) while remaining wholly uncommitted at the deeper level, noting the significance of the subjects reactions and the effectiveness of his own performance. Poor interrogators often confuse this bi-level functioning with role-playing, but there is a vital difference. The interrogator who merely pretends, in his surface performance, to feel a given emotion or to hold a given attitude toward the source is likely to be unconvincing; the source quickly senses the deception. Even children are very quick to feel this kind of pretense. To be persuasive, the sympathy or anger must be genuine; but to be useful, it must not interfere with the deeper level of precise, unaffected observation. Bi-level functioning is not difficult or even unusual; most people act at times as both performer and observer unless their emotions are so deeply involved in the situation that the critical faculty disintegrates. Through experience the interrogator becomes adept in this dualism. The interrogator who finds that he has become emotionally involved and is no longer capable of unimpaired objectivity should report the facts so that a substitution can be made. Despite all planning efforts to select an interrogator whose age, background, skills, personality, and experience make him the best choice for the job, it sometimes happens that both questioner and subject feel, when they first meet, an immediate attraction or antipathy which is so strong that a change of interrogators quickly becomes essential. No interrogator should be reluctant to notify his superior when emotional involvement becomes evident. Not the reaction but a failure to report it would be evidence of a lack of professionalism.

Other reasons for changing interrogators should be anticipated and avoided at the outset. During the first part of the interrogation the developing relationship between the questioner and the initially uncooperative source is more important than the information obtained; when this relationship is destroyed by a change of interrogators, the replacement must start nearly from scratch. In fact, he starts with a handicap, because exposure to interrogation will have made the source a more effective resister. Therefore the base, station, [one or two words deleted] should not assign as chief interrogator a person whose availability will end before the estimated completion of the case.

5. The Timing

Before interrogation starts, the amount of time probably required and probably available to both interrogator and interrogatee should be calculated. If the subject is not to be under detention, his normal schedule is ascertained in advance, so that he will not have to be released at a critical point because he has an appointment or has to go to work.

Because pulling information from a recalcitrant subject is the hard way of doing business, interrogation should not begin until all pertinent facts available from overt and from cooperative sources have been assembled.

Interrogation sessions with a resistant source who is under detention should not be held on an unvarying schedule. The capacity for resistance is diminished by disorientation. The subject may be left alone for days; and he may be returned to his cell, allowed to sleep for five minutes, and brought back to an interrogation which is conducted as though eight hours had intervened. The principle is that sessions should be so planned as to disrupt the source's sense of chronological order.

6. The Termination

The end of an interrogation should be planned before questioning starts. The kinds of questions asked, the methods employed, and even the goals sought may be shaped by what will happen when the end is reached. [approx. 3 lines deleted] If he is to be released upon the local economy, perhaps blacklisted as a suspected hostile agent but not subjected to subsequent counterintelligence surveillance, it is important to avoid an inconclusive ending that has warned the interrogates of our doubts but has established nothing. The poorest interrogations are those that trail off into an inconclusive nothingness.

A number of practical terminal details should also be considered in advance. Are the source's documents to be returned to him, and will they be available in time? Is he to be paid? If he is a fabricator or hostile agent, has he been photographed and fingerprinted? Are subsequent contacts necessary or desirable, and have recontact provisions been arranged? Has a quit-claim been obtained?

As was noted at the beginning of this section, the successful interrogation of a strongly resistant source ordinarily involves two key processes: the calculated regression of the interrogatee and the provision of an acceptable rationalization. If these two steps have been taken, it becomes very important to clinch the new tractability by means of conversion. In other words, a subject who has finally divulged the information sought and who has been given a reason for divulging which salves his self-esteem, his conscience, or both will often be in a mood to take the final step of accepting the interrogator' s values and making common cause with him. If operational use is now contemplated, conversion is imperative. But even if the source has no further value after his fund of information has been mined, spending some extra time with him in order to replace his new sense of emptiness with new values can be good insurance. All non-Communist services are bothered at times by disgruntled exinterrogatees who press demands and threaten or take hostile action if the demands are not satisfied. Defectors in particular, because they are often hostile toward any kind of authority, cause trouble by threatening or bringing suits in local courts, arranging publication of vengeful stories, or going to the local police. The former interrogatee is especially likely to be a future trouble-maker if during interrogation he was subjected to a form of compulsion imposed from outside himself. Time spent, after the interrogation ends, in fortifying the source's sense of acceptance in the interrogator's world may be only a fraction of the time required to bottle up his attempts to gain revenge. Moreover, conversion may create a useful and enduring asset. (See also remarks in VIII B 4.)

VIII. The Non-Coercive Counterintelligence Interrogation

A. General Remarks

The term non-coercive is used above to denote methods of interrogation that are not based upon the coercion of an unwilling subject through the employment of superior force originating outside himself. However, the non-coercive interrogation is not conducted without pressure. On the contrary, the goal is to generate maximum pressure, or at least as much as is needed to induce compliance. The difference is that the pressure is generated inside the interrogatee. His resistance is sapped, his urge to yield is fortified, until in the end he defeats himself.

Manipulating the subject psychologically until he becomes compliant, without applying external methods of forcing him to submit, sounds harder than it is. The initial advantage lies with the interrogator. From the outset, he knows a great deal more about the source than the source knows about him. And he can create and amplify an effect of omniscience in a number of ways. For example, he can show the interrogatee a thick file bearing his own name. Even if the file contains little or nothing but blank paper, the air of familiarity with which the interrogator refers to the subject's background can convince some sources that all is known and that resistance is futile.

If the interrogatee is under detention, the interrogator can also manipulate his environment. Merely by cutting off all other human contacts, "the interrogator monopolizes the social environment of the source."(3) He exercises the powers of an all-powerful parent, determining when the source will be sent to bed, when and what he will eat, whether he will be rewarded for good behavior or punished for being bad. The interrogator can and does make the subject's world not only unlike the world to which he had been accustomed but also strange in itself - a world in which familiar patterns of time, space, and sensory perception are overthrown. He can shift the environment abruptly. For example, a source who refuses to talk at all can be placed in unpleasant solitary confinement for a time. Then a friendly soul treats him to an unexpected walk in the woods. Experiencing relief and exhilaration, the subject will usually find it impossible not to respond to innocuous comments on the weather and the flowers. These are expanded to include reminiscences, and soon a precedent of verbal exchange has been established. Both the Germans and the Chinese have used this trick effectively.

The interrogator also chooses the emotional key or keys in which the interrogation or any part of it will be played.

Because of these and other advantages, " [approx. 6 lines deleted] ."(3) B. The Structure of the Interrogation

A counterintelligence interrogation consists of four parts: the opening, the reconnaissance, the detailed questioning and the conclusion. 1. The Opening

Most resistant interrogatees block off access to significant counterintelligence in their possession for one or more of four reasons. The first is a specific negative reaction to the interrogator. Poor initial handling or a fundamental antipathy can make a source uncooperative even if he has nothing significant or damaging to conceal. The second cause is that some sources are resistant "by nature" - i.e. by early conditioning - to any compliance with authority. The third is that the subject believes that the information sought will be damaging or incriminating for him personally that cooperation with the interrogator will have consequences more painful for him than the results of non-cooperation. The fourth is ideological resistance. The source has identified himself with a cause, a political movement or organization, or an opposition intelligence service. Regardless of his attitude toward the interrogator, his own personality, and his fears for the future, the person who is deeply devoted to a hostile cause will ordinarily prove strongly resistant under interrogation.

A principal goal during the opening phase is to confirm the personality assessment obtained through screening and to allow the interrogator to gain a deeper understanding of the source as an individual. Unless time is crucial, the interrogator should not become impatient if the interrogatee wanders from the purposes of the interrogation and reverts to personal concerns. Significant facts not produced during screening may be revealed. The screening report itself is brought to life, the type becomes an individual, as the subject talks. And sometimes seemingly rambling monologues about personal matters are preludes to significant admissions. Some people cannot bring themselves to provide information that puts them in an unfavorable light until, through a lengthy prefatory rationalization, they feel that they have set the stage that the interrogator will now understand why they acted as they did. If face-saving is necessary to the interrogatee it will be a waste of time to try to force him to cut the preliminaries short and get down to cases. In his view, he is dealing with the important topic, the why . He will be offended and may become wholly uncooperative if faced with insistent demands for the naked what .

There is another advantage in letting the subject talk freely and even ramblingly in the first stage of interrogation. The interrogator is free to observe. Human beings communicate a great deal by non-verbal means. Skilled interrogators, for example, listen closely to voices and learn a great deal from them. An interrogation is not merely a verbal performance; it is a vocal performance, and the voice projects tension, fear, a dislike of certain topics, and other useful pieces of information. It is also helpful to watch the subject's mouth, which is as a rule much more revealing than his eyes. Gestures and postures also tell a story. If a subject normally gesticulates broadly at times and is at other times physically relaxed but at some point sits stiffly motionless, his posture is likely to be the physical image of his mental tension. The interrogator should make a mental note of the topic that caused such a reaction.

One textbook on interrogation lists the following physical indicators of emotions and recommends that interrogators note them, not as conclusive proofs but as assessment aids:

(1) A ruddy or flushed face is an indication of anger or embarrassment but not necessarily of guilt.

(2) A "cold sweat" is a strong sign of fear and shock.

(3) A pale face indicates fear and usually shows that the interrogator is hitting close to the mark.

(4) A dry mouth denotes nervousness.

(5) Nervous tension is also shown by wringing a handkerchief or clenching the hands tightly.

(6) Emotional strain or tension may cause a pumping of the heart which becomes visible in the pulse and throat.

(7) A slight gasp, holding the breath, or an unsteady voice may betray the subject.

(8) Fidgeting may take many forms, all of which are good indications of nervousness.

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(9) A man under emotional strain or nervous tension will involuntarily draw his elbows to his sides. It is a protective defense mechanism.

(10) The movement of the foot when one leg is crossed over the knee of the other can serve as an indicator. The circulation of the blood to the lower leg is partially cut off, thereby causing a slight lift or movement of the free foot with each heart beat. This becomes more pronounced and observable as the pulse rate increases.

Pauses are also significant. Whenever a person is talking about a subject of consequence to himself, he goes through a process of advance self-monitoring, performed at lightning speed. This self-monitoring is more intense if the person is talking to a stranger and especially intense if he is answering the stranger's questions. Its purpose is to keep from the questioner any guilty information or information that would be damaging to the speaker's self-esteem. Where questions or answers get close to sensitive areas, the pre-scanning is likely to create mental blocks. These in turn produce unnatural pauses, meaningless sounds designed to give the speaker more time, or other interruptions. It is not easy to distinguish between innocent blocks -- things held back for reasons of personal prestige -- and guilty blocks -- things the interrogator needs to know. But the successful establishment of rapport will tend to eliminate innocent blocks, or at least to keep them to a minimum.

The establishment of rapport is the second principal purpose of the opening phase of the interrogation. Sometimes the interrogator knows in advance, as a result of screening, that the subject will be uncooperative. At other times the probability of resistance is established without screening: detected hostile agents, for example, usually have not only the will to resist but also the means, through a cover story or other explanation. But the anticipation of withholding increases rather than diminishes, the value of rapport. In other words, a lack of rapport may cause an interrogatee to withhold information that he would otherwise provide freely, whereas the existence of rapport may induce an interrogatee who is initially determined to withhold to change his attitude. Therefore the interrogator must not become hostile if confronted with initial hostility, or in any other way confirm such negative attitudes as he may encounter at the outset. During this first phase his attitude should remain business-like but also quietly (not ostentatiously) friendly and welcoming. Such opening remarks by subjects as, "I know what you so-and-so's are after, and I can tell you right now that you're not going to get it from me" are best handled by an unperturbed "Why don't you tell me what has made you angry?" At this stage the interrogator should avoid being drawn into conflict, no matter how provocatory may be the attitude or language of the interrogatee. If he meets truculence with neither insincere protestations that he is the subject's "pal" nor an equal anger but rather a calm interest in what has aroused the subject, the interrogator has gained two advantages right at the start. He has established the superiority that he will need later, as the questioning develops, and he has increased the chances of establishing rapport.

How long the opening phase continues depends upon how long it takes to establish rapport or to determine that voluntary cooperation is unobtainable. It may be literally a matter of seconds, or it may be a drawn-out, up-hill battle. Even though the cost in time and patience is sometimes high, the effort to make the subject feel that his questioner is a sympathetic figure should not be abandoned until all reasonable resources have been exhausted (unless, of course, the interrogation does not merit much time). Otherwise, the chances are that the interrogation will not produce optimum results. In fact, it is likely to be a failure, and the interrogator should not be dissuaded from the effort to establish rapport by an inward conviction that no man in his right mind would incriminate himself by providing the kind of information that is sought. The history of interrogation is full of confessions and other self-incriminations that were in essence the result of a substitution of the interrogation world for the world outside. In other words, as the sights and sounds of an outside world fade away, its significance for the interrogatee tends to do likewise. That world is replaced by the interrogation room, its two occupants, and the dynamic relationship between them. As interrogation goes on, the subject tends increasingly to divulge or withhold in accordance with the values of the interrogation world rather than those of the outside world (unless the periods of questioning are only brief interruptions in his normal life). In this small world of two inhabitants a clash of personalities -- as distinct from a conflict of purposes -- assumes exaggerated force, like a tornado in a wind-tunnel. The self-esteem of the interrogatee and of the interrogator becomes involved, and the interrogatee fights to keep his secrets from his opponent for subjective reasons, because he is grimly determined not to be the loser, the inferior. If on the other hand the interrogator establishes rapport, the subject may withhold because of other reasons, but his resistance often lacks the bitter, last-ditch intensity that results if the contest becomes personalized.

The interrogator who senses or determines in the opening phase that what he is hearing is a legend should resist the first, natural impulse to demonstrate its falsity. In some interrogatees the ego-demands, the need to save face, are so intertwined with preservation of the cover story that calling the man a liar will merely intensify resistance. It is better to leave an avenue of escape, a loophole which permits the source to correct his story without looking foolish.

If it is decided, much later in the interrogation, to confront the interrogatee with proof of lying, the following related advice about legal cross-examination may prove helpful.

"Much depends upon the sequence in which one conducts the cross-examination of a dishonest witness. You should never hazard the important question until you have laid the foundation for it in such a way that, when confronted with the fact, the witness can neither deny nor explain it. One often sees the most damaging documentary evidence, in the forms of letters or affidavits, fall absolutely flat as betrayers of falsehood, merely because of the unskillful way in which they are handled. If you have in your possession a letter written by the witness, in which he takes an opposite position on some part of the case to the one he has just sworn to, avoid the common error of showing the witness the letter for identification, and then reading it to him with the inquiry, 'What have you to say to that?' During the reading of his letter the witness will be collecting his thoughts and getting ready his explanations in anticipation of the question that is to follow, and the effect of the damaging letter will be lost.... The correct method of using such a letter is to lead the witness quietly into repeating the statements he has made in his direct testimony, and which his letter contradicts. Then read it off to him. The witness has no explanation. He has stated the fact, there is nothing to qualify."(41)

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