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20151010 Get the Truth



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The main idea is to demonstrate that contemporary knowledge of human psychology allowed developing methods of interrogation that are both effective and humane, making traditional methods of torture and violent psychological pressure outdated and rendering discussion of “to torture or not to torture” meaningless.


  1. Of Espionage and Infomercials: The Extraordinary Power of Short-Term Thinking

It starts with the story of discovery of a spy inside CIA during routine polygraph test when one of authors discovered inconsistencies that caused him to initiate detailed interview. The result was unexpected confession in treason. This amazing result was achieved by exploiting Four Factors of Short-Term thinking:

  • Inherent vulnerability to influence
  • Repetition
  • Loss of Independent Thinking
  • Lack of immediately identifiable consequences
  1. The Best-Case/Worst-Case Continuum

In this chapter authors continue review of these technics using another example of discovering treason through interview. This time the technic involved is Interrogation / Elicitation: a process that is designed to influence or persuade an individual to reveal information that he has reason to want to conceal. This technic uses continuum of Worst/Best Case scenario when interrogator cautiously prompting interviewee to move along this continuum.

  1. Transitioning to Interrogation Mode: The DOC and the DOG

This chapter is about important moment in investigation – transition to interrogation mode. In this mode investigator gradually increases pressure making statements that not everything is clear and vaguely indicating that while suspicion is growing, there is still a chance to get away if good explanation provided. This forces suspect to talk and provide more material for discovery of inconsistencies and elements of actual truth.

  1. Uncovering a Spy: The Art of Creating the Monologue

Contrary to typical idea of interrogation, the real interrogation phase starts with monolog of interrogator. This chapter uses example of real cases to demonstrate how such monolog should be built in order to be effective.

  1. How to Deliver Your Monologue

This chapter is about art of delivering monolog. The most important part of it seems to by subdue fear of the person under interrogation and provide opening for this person to expose truth and all justifications this person has for his/her actions, however ridiculous they are. It achieved by delivering monolog slowly in subdued voice and constantly engaging object, but without confronting him. The key is convincing object that there is relatively easy way out, that interrogator is trying to find this way and generally wants to help him, and that this way necessary includes full confession of the truth.

  1. How to Tailor Your Monologue

This is more specific “how to” information about designing monolog. Here are key elements:

  • Rationalize the actions
  • Project the blame
  • Minimize seriousness
  • Socialize situation
  • Emphasize the truth
  1. How to Handle Resistance During Your Monologue

This chapter is about handling resistance. The resistance typically includes convincing statements, emotions, and/or denials. Convincing statements are neutralizing them by accepting everything that is true, while logically separating truthful part of statement from what it is trying to cover up and demonstrating that it did not work. Emotions are difficult to handle, but the key is not to respond emotionally, but rather demonstrate sympathy combined with calm assurance that emotions unfortunately do not relate to the matter and therefore could not possibly work. The method of quashing denials as with other methods of resistance is to demonstrate that it did not work by gestures and articulation, at the same time using objects’ first name and supportive approach as trying to help out from unbelievable denial by disclosing the truth.

  1. Going for the Gold: Collecting Nuggets of Information

This chapter is about importance of homework in preparation for interrogation. Without collecting enough applicable information to see inconsistencies and holes in object’s version of events and behavior, interrogation would fail.

  1. Crafting a Sincere, Empathetic Monologue: Fiction As an Option

This chapter is about use of deception in interrogation for various purposes often just to establish rapport with the object and convince him/her that interrogator understands the problems and basically is on the object’s side, trying to find way out. The typical deception is to accommodate interrogators’ personality and history to personality and history of the object. For example dealing with divorcee it help to tell that interrogator is also divorced, even if in reality the interrogator never was married in the first place. The tricky part is not overplaying it. It would probably be not advisable to tell chess master under interrogation that you are avid chess player if the closest to chess game you ever played were checkers.

  1. Do No Harm

This is about effectiveness of approach when interrogator sincerely looking for best possible outcome for everybody involved, including the object of interrogation, obviously not at the expense of interrogation’s success. The key phrase here: you are a good person even if you did some awful things, so let’s find a way to leave this things behind by confessing and improving chances for leniency in punishment. The key behavioral characteristic of interrogator is ability to do it sincerely.

  1. An Elicitation Case Study.

This is a case study of confession elicitation from individual who was pretty successful in convincing everybody in his innocence with no evidence to contrary in existence. It was achieved by pressing key points of the object’s psyche.

  1. If O. J. Simpson Did It: The Interrogation That Might Have Been

This is another case study only not real, but rather “what if” case, when authors speculate about what would happen if they were able interrogate O.J. Simpson. They believe that they would be able extract confession with relative ease and probably in one setting.

  1. The Elephant in the Room

The final chapter is an attempt to make a case in political issue of using torture in interrogation. The key point here is that effective interrogator does not need torture as interrogation tool, moreover it is typically counterproductive, making object to lock in and reject any cooperation. As example they provide story of Abu Zubaydah as H. Safran related it in his book. Author do not deny effectiveness of torture in extracting information, they rather point out that information provided would be not truthful and would cause moral damage to interrogator and humanitarian western society.


Long time ago I had a wonderful experience of being investigated by KGB and had to say that they used similar humane method, however severely backed up with threats, albeit indirect, of serious physical harm in the future. Interesting thing about it was that I had nothing to hide and all case was about me writing something that I would obviously gladly give to everybody who would ask casually. Interestingly enough attempt to get it via intimidation caused me to resist at least for a while. Based on this experience I would definitely agree that in trivial case of criminal or inappropriate behavior soft psychological pressure would work perfectly. However I seriously doubt that humane conversation would elicit specific actionable truth from terrorist in “ticking bomb” case. The most probable behavior by somebody who is prepared to die for a cause would be complete refusal to talk with infidel. History of torture goes back for centuries and demonstrated its usefulness in making people to confess anything and tell everything, albeit not always and not truthfully. In short it is disgusting, but well-known tool of interrogation and as such, its automatic exclusion diminishes assortment of tool interrogator can use. As to the issue of morality of torture, I do not understand how somebody could seriously claim that it is immoral to prevent torture of thousands potential victims of terror who could be burned alive as it happened on 9-11-2001 even at the cost of inhumane treatment for terrorists. Unfortunately in real live win-win solutions inherent to business driven cultures such as western culture is not always possible and win-lose solutions inherent to conquest driven cultures and ideologies such as traditional Islam and various mutations of National/International socialism are often the only conceivable methods to achieve objectives of members of these cultures and ideologies.

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