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John Dolva

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Some clues as to strategies intelligence organisations use to obfuscate may be found in of this document, I particularly find the 'isolation, confusion, guilt induction, good cop, bad cop routine' interesting



July 1963

This manual found at http://www.parascope.com/articles/0397/kubark06.htm makes for some interesting reading.

for example : "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] ."

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 bedamaging 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.

(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 angr 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 xxxx 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."

2. The Reconnaissance

If the interrogatee is cooperative at the outset or if rapport is established during the opening phase and the source becomes cooperative, the reconnaissance stage is needless; the interrogator proceeds directly to detailed questioning. But if the interrogatee is withholding, a period of exploration is necessary. Assumptions have normally been made already as to what he is withholding: that he is a fabricator, or an RIS agent, or something else he deems it important to conceal. Or the assumption may be that he had knowledge of such activities carried out by someone else. At any rate, the purpose of the reconnaissance is to provide a quick testing of the assumption and, more importantly, to probe the causes, extent, and intensity of resistance.

During the opening phase the interrogator will have charted the probable areas of resistance by noting those topics which caused emotional or physical reactions, speech blocks, or other indicators. He now begins to probe these areas. Every experienced interrogator has noted that if an interrogateeis withholding, his anxiety increases as the questioning nears the mark. The safer the topic, the more voluble the source. But as the questions make him increasingly uncomfortable, the interrogatee becomes less communicative or perhaps even hostile. During the opening phase the interrogator has gone along with this protective mechanism. Now, however, he keeps coming back to each area of sensitivity until he has determined the location of each and the intensity of the defenses. If resistance is slight, mere persistence may overcome it; and detailed questioning may follow immediately. But if resistance is strong, a new topic should be introduced, and detailed questioning reserved for the third stage.

Two dangers are especially likely to appear during the reconnaissance. Up to this point the interrogator has not continued a line of questioning when resistance was encountered. Now, however, he does so, and rapport may be strained. Some interrogatees will take this change personally and tend to personalize the conflict. The interrogator should resist this tendency. If he succumbs to it, and becomes engaged in a battle of wits, he may not be able to accomplish the task at hand. The second temptation to avoid is the natural inclination to resort prematurely to ruses or coercive techniques in order to settle the matter then and there. The basic purpose of the reconnaissance is to determine the kind and degree of pressure that will be needed in the third stage. The interrogator should reserve his fire-power until he knows what he is up against.

3. The Detailed Questioning

If rapport is established and if the interrogatee has nothing significant to hide, detailed questioning presents only routine problems. The major routine considerations are the following:

The interrogator must know exactly what he wants to know. He should have on paper or firmly in mind all the questions to which he seeks answers. It usually happens that the source has a relatively large body of information that has little or no intelligence value and only a small collection of nuggets. He will naturally tend to talk about what he knows best. The interrogator should not show quick impatience, but neither should he allow the results to get out of focus. The determinant remains what we need, not what the interrogatee can most readily provide.

At the same time it is necessary to make every effort to keep the subject from learning through the interrogation process precisely where our informational gaps lie. This principle is especially important if the interrogatee is following his normal life, going home each evening and appearing only once or twice a week for questioning, or if his bona fides remains in doubt. Under almost all circumstances, however, a clear revelation of our interests and knowledge should be avoided. It is usually a poor practice to hand to even the most cooperative interrogatee an orderly list of questions and ask him to write the answers. (This stricture does not apply to the writing of autobiographies or on informational matters not a subject of controversy with the source.) Some time is normally spent on matters of little or no intelligence interest for purposes of concealment. The interrogator can abet the process by making occasional notes -- or pretending to do so -- on items that seem important to the interrogatee but are not of intelligence value. From this point of view an interrogation can be deemed successful if a source who is actually a hostile agent can report to the opposition only the general fields of our interest but cannot pinpoint specifics without including misleading information.

It is sound practice to write up each interrogation report on the day of questioning or, at least, before the next session, so that defects can be promptly remedied and gaps or contradictions noted in time.

It is also a good expedient to have the interrogatee make notes of topics that should be covered, which occur to him while discussing the immediate matters at issue. The act of recording the stray item or thought on paper fixes it in the interrogatee's mind. Usually topics popping up in the course of an interrogation are forgotten if not noted; they tend to disrupt the interrogation plan if covered by way of digression on the spot.

Debriefing questions should usually be couched to provoke a positive answer and should be specific. The questioner should not accept a blanket negative without probing. For example, the question "Do you know anything about Plant X?" is likelier to draw a negative answer then "Do you have any friends who work at Plant X?" or "Can you describe its exterior?"

It is important to determine whether the subject's knowledge of any topic was acquired at first hand, learned indirectly, or represents merely an assumption. If the information was obtained indirectly, the identities of sub-sources and related information about the channel are needed. If statements rest on assumptions, the facts upon which the conclusions are based are necessary to evaluation.

As detailed questioning proceeds, addition biographic data will be revealed. Such items should be entered into the record, but it is normally preferable not to diverge from an impersonal topic in order to follow a biographic lead. Such leads can be taken up later unless they raise new doubts about bona fides .

As detailed interrogation continues, and especially at the half-way mark, the interrogator's desire to complete the task may cause him to be increasingly business-like or even brusque. He may tend to curtail or drop the usual inquiries about the subject's well-being with which he opened earlier sessions. He may feel like dealing moreand more abruptly with reminiscences or digressions. His interest has shifted from the interrogatee himself, who jut a while ago was an interesting person, to the atsk of getting at what he knows. But if rapport has been established, the interrogatee will be quick to sense and resent this change of attitude. This point is particularly important if the interrogatee is a defector faced with bewildering changes and in a highly emotional state. Any interrogatee has his ups and downs, times when he is tired or half-ill, times when his personal problems have left his nerves frayed. The peculiar intimacy of the interrogation situation and the very fact that the interrogator has deliberately fostered rapport will often lead the subject to talk about his doubts, fears, and other personal reactions. The interrogator should neither cut off this flow abruptly nor show impatience unless it takes up an inordinate amount of time or unless it seems likely that all the talking about personal matters is being used deliberately as a smoke screen to keep the interrogator from doing his job. If the interrogatee is believed cooperative, then from the beginning to the end of the process he should feel that the interrogator's interest in him has remained constant. Unless the interrogation is soon over, the interrogatee's attitude toward his questioner is not likely to remain constant. He will feel more and more drawn to the questioner or increasingly antagonistic. As a rule, the best way for the interrogator to keep the relationship on an even keel is to maintain the same quiet, relaxed, and open-minded attitude from start to finish.

Detailed interrogation ends only when (1) all useful counterintelligence information has been obtained; (2) diminishing returns and more pressing commitments compel a cessation; or (3) the base, station, [one or two words deleted] admits full or partial defeat. Termination for any reason other than the first is only temporary. It is a profound mistake to write off a successfully resistant interrogatee or one whose questioning was ended before his potential was exhausted. KUBARK must keep track of such persons, because people and circumstances change. Until the source dies or tells us everything that he knows that is pertinent to our purposes, his interrogation may be interrupted, perhaps for years -- but it has not been completed.

4. The Conclusion

The end of an interrogation is not the end of the interrogator's responsibilities. From the beginning of planning to the end of questioning it has been necessary to understand and guard against the various troubles that a vengeful ex-source can cause. As was pointed out earlier, KUBARK's lack of executive authority abroad and its operational need for facelessness make it peculiarly vulnerable to attack in the courts or the press. The best defense against such attacks is prevention, through enlistment or enforcement of compliance. However real cooperation is achieved, its existence seems to act as a deterrent to later hostility. The initially resistant subject may become cooperative because of a partial identification with the interrogator and his interests, or the source may make such an identification because of his cooperation. In either event, he is unlikely to cause serious trouble in the future. Real difficulties are more frequently created by interrogatees who have succeeded in withholding.

The following steps are normally a routine part of the conclusion:

a. [approx. 10 lines deleted]

d. [approx. 7 lines deleted]

e. [approx. 7 lines deleted]

f. [approx. 4 lines deleted]

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"From the beginning of planning to the end of questioning it has been necessary to understand and guard against the various troubles that a vengeful ex-source can cause. As was pointed out earlier, KUBARK's lack of executive authority abroad and its operational need for facelessness make it peculiarly vulnerable to attack in the courts or the press. The best defense against such attacks is prevention, through enlistment or enforcement of compliance. However real cooperation is achieved, its existence seems to act as a deterrent to later hostility. The initially resistant subject may become cooperative because of a partial identification with the interrogator and his interests, or the source may make such an identification because of his cooperation. In either event, he is unlikely to cause serious trouble in the future."

this part in particular is to me a good reason to avoid alliance, one must remain free to criticise or accpept all input. To me it's a good reason to maintain independence of thought. Of course all should be treated on it's own merit, and polite discourse between independents is the proper way to override such influences.

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Edited by John Dolva
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Edited by John Dolva
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