The Interrogator's Notebook

Join a former interrogator in asking the hard questions.

Blog posts : "General"

Who Interrogates the CIA When They Lie?

A recent report by the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded that the CIA misled the government and the public about aspects of its interrogation program for years.

So what did dozens of CIA detainees and 6,000+ pages of documentation show us? That we were lied to about the efficacy of advanced…

Read more

Prolonged Detention of U.S. Citizens for Interrogations?


Each year, the National Defense Authorization Act is a bill that is signed by the President. President Obama signed the 2013 version with a controversial provision that allows for the indefinite imprisonment of U.S. citizens.

One of the items that has flown under the radar in the debate on inte…

Read more

Lost Opportunities in the Interrogation of George Zimmerman by Police

In late June, Esquire John H. Richardson from Esquire rightly pointed out a quote from a police interview with George Zimmerman that he thought was important and named his article: The Quote that Should End the Trayvon Trial.

Here's is an excerpt from that interrogation:

A few moments later, he …

Read more

The Interrogation of Children

Two recent reports from two different parts of the world hint at potential problematic behavior in the interrogation of children.

The Ma'an news agency reported that a Palestinian teenager accused an Israeli interrogator of threatening rape

In a Maryland kindergarten, a five year boy was inte…

Read more

Red Tape as a Torture Device at Guantanamo Bay


Many of us have pictures in our head about the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, and some of the enhanced interrogation techniques that were exposed there.

However it may be that red tape is the worst torture device of all in the war against terror. Journalist Max Fisher in the Washington Post break…

Read more

Interrogation's Greatest Hits

For many years, playing loud music to keep prisoners awake has been in the repertoire of CIA and military interrogators. Here is a reported playlist:

  • "All Eyes on Me," Tupac
  • "America," Neil Diamond
  • "American Pie," Don McLean
  • "Baby One More Time," Britney Spears
  • "Babylon," David Gray.
  • "Bodi…

Read more

The Interrotron - Technology for Intense On-Camera Interviews


Oscar winning documentary filmmaker Errol Morris has a secret weapon for unsettling interviews: The Interrotron. Developed with production designer and frequent collaborator Steve Hardie, the technique allows an interviewee to maintain eye contact with Morris so that there is an intensity and ho…

Read more

Can Entertainment Change the Rules of Interrogation?



In a recent article in the Atlantic, journalist and author Joshua E. S. Phillips writes about how the real legacy of the controversial film Zero Dark Thirty may be in interrogation rooms as the harshness of the interrogations depicted in the film has registered with the American public and, …

Read more

Yale University Enters the Interrogation Debate


Yale University recently announced that it will host the US SOCOM Center of Excellence for Operation Neuroscience. Led by Doctor Charles Morgan III, Green Berets and other Special Ops will learn the methods of Modified Cognitive Interviewing, a system that builds positive rapport between the sol…

Read more

Brennan Flip Flops on Interrogation During Hearings

John Brennan, nominee to head the Central Intelligence Agency, flip flopped during recent congressional hearings on his support of enhanced interrogation techniques. Previously, he had stated that the now-defunct interrogation program "saved lives," but now classifies the program as a "low point i…

Read more

Did the U.S. Keep a Human Library?


One of the problems with black ops prisons - aside from enhanced interrogation techniques - has been the ability of the U.S. to keep prisoners detained for long periods of time, without charging them with crimes. In effect, it created a human library, a way for our intelligence agency to be able…

Read more

Zero Dark Thirty Makes Case for Enhanced Interrogation


I have been having a tough time sorting through my feelings about Zero Dark Thirty. There were well-drawn scenes coupled with unbelievable scenes (e.g. all prisoners spoke English).

In the end, it's important to understand that this is a work of fiction and that there are better documented ways…

Read more

Former CIA Interrogator Looks for Deception in Lance Armstrong Interview


Former CIA Interrogator Phil Houston, coauthor of Spy the Lie, points out some moments in Lance Armstrong's interrogation with Oprah that could indicate that he didn't come completely clean. From awkward laughs to pauses to scratching his head to placing truths in what could be lies, Houston loo…

Read more

Can a Waterboarding Play Set Be Far Behind?

For family fun, you may want to check out the Playmobil Security Check Point. It teaches kids the lessons of a high-surveillance society, although it doesn't seem like you can take the tiny shoes off the characters. Makes me wonder what's next?


Read more

How Long Does a Lie Last?

Scientific American performed a study on how long a lie lasts. It's easier to take advantage of our fallible memories than one might think. Find out more here.

Read more

15 blog posts