IV. The Interrogator
A number of studies of interrogation discuss qualities said to be desirable in an interrogator. The list seems almost endless - a professional manner, forcefulness, understanding and sympathy, breadth of general knowledge, area knowledge, "a practical knowledge of psychology", skill in the tricks of the trade, alertness, perseverance, integrity, discretion, patience, a high I.Q., extensive experience, flexibility, etc., etc. Some texts even discuss the interrogator's manners and grooming, and one prescribed the traits considered desirable in his secretary.
A repetition of this catalogue would serve no purpose here, especially because almost all of the characteristics mentioned are also desirable in case officers, agents, policemen, salesmen, lumberjacks, and everybody else. The search of the pertinent scientific literature disclosed no reports of studies based on common denominator traits of successful interrogators or any other controlled inquiries that would invest these lists with any objective validity.
Perhaps the four qualifications of chief importance to the interrogator are (1) enough operational training and experience to permit quack recognition of leads; (2) real familiarity with the language to be used; (3) extensive background knowledge about the interrogatee's native country (and intelligence service, if employed by one); and (4) a genuine understanding of the source as a person.
[approx. 1/2 line deleted] stations, and even a few bases can call upon one or several interrogators to supply these prerequisites, individually or as a team. Whenever a number of interrogators is available, the percentage of successes is increased by careful matching of questioners and sources and by ensuring that rigid prescheduling does not prevent such matching. Of the four traits listed, a genuine insight into the source's character and motives is perhaps
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most important but least common. Later portions of this manual explore this topic in more detail. One general observation is introduced now, however, because it is considered basic to the establishment of rapport, upon which the success of non-coercive interrogation depends.
The interrogator should remember that he and the interrogatee are often working at cross-purposes not because the interrogates is malevolently withholding or misleading but simply because what he wants front the situation is not what the interrogator wants. The interrogator's goal is to obtain useful information -- facts about which the interrogatee presumably have acquired information. But at the outset of the interrogation, and perhaps for a long time afterwards, the person being questioned is not greatly concerned with communicating his body of specialized information to his questioner; he is concerned with putting his best foot forward. The question uppermost in his mind, at the beginning, is not likely to be "How can I help PBPRIME?" but rather "What sort of impression am I making?" and, almost immediately thereafter, "What is going to happen to me now?" (An exception is the penetration agent or provocateur sent to a KUBARK field installation after training in withstanding interrogation. Such an agent may feel confident enough not to be gravely concerned about himself. His primary interest, from the beginning, may be the acquisition of information about the interrogator and his service.)
The skilled interrogator can save a great deal of time by understanding the emotional needs of the interrogates. Most people confronted by an official -- and dimly powerful -- representative of a foreign power will get down to cases much faster if made to feel, from the start, that they are being treated as individuals. So simple a matter as greeting an interrogatee by his name at the opening of the session establishes in his mind the comforting awareness that he is considered as a person, not a squeezable sponge. This is not to say that egotistic types should be allowed to bask at length in the warmth of individual recognition. But it is important to assuage the fear of denigration which afflicts many people when first interrogated by making it clear that the individuality of the interrogatee is recognized. With this common understanding established, the interrogation can move on to impersonal matters and will not later be thwarted or interrupted --
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or at least not as often -- by irrelevant answers designed not to provide facts but to prove that the interrogatee is a respectable member of the human race.
Although it is often necessary to trick people into telling what we need to know, especially in CI interrogations, the initial question which the interrogator asks of himself should be, "How can I make him want to tell me what he knows?" rather than "How can I trap him into disclosing what he knows?" If the person being questioned is genuinely hostile for ideological reasons, techniques of manipulation are in order. But the assumption of hostility -- or at least the use of pressure tactics at the first encounter -- may make difficult subjects even out of those who would respond to recognition of individuality and an initial assumption of good will.
Another preliminary comment about the interrogator is that normally he should not personalize. That is, he should not be pleased, flattered, frustrated, goaded, or otherwise emotionally and personally affected by the interrogation. A calculated display of feeling employed for a specific purpose is an exception; but even under these circumstances the interrogator is in full control. The interrogation situation is intensely inter-personal; it is therefore all the more necessary to strike a counter-balance by an attitude which the subject clearly recognizes as essentially fair and objective. The kind of person who cannot help personalizing, who becomes emotionally involved in the interrogation situation, may have chance (and even spectacular) successes as an interrogator but is almost certain to have a poor batting average.
It is frequently said that the interrogator should be "a good judge of human nature." In fact, [approx. 3 lines deleted] (3) This study states later (page "Great attention has been given to the degree to which persons are able to make judgements from casual observations regarding the personality characteristics of another. The consensus of research is that with respect to many kinds of judgments, at least some judges perform reliably better than chance...." Nevertheless, "... the level
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of reliability in judgments is so low that research encounters difficulties when it seeks to determine who makes better judgments...." (3) In brief, the interrogator is likelier to overestimate his ability to judge others than to underestimate it, especially if he has had little or no training in modern psychology. It follows that errors in assessment and in handling are likelier to result from snap judgments based upon the assumption of innate skill in judging others than from holding such judgments in abeyance until enough facts are known.
There has been a good deal of discussion of interrogation experts vs. subject-matter experts. Such facts as are available suggest that the latter have a slight advantage. But for counterintelligence purposes the debate is academic. [approx. 5 lines deleted]
It is sound practice to assign inexperienced interrogators to guard duty or to other supplementary tasks directly related to interrogation, so that they can view the process closely before taking charge. The use of beginning interrogators as screeners (see part VI) is also recommended.
Although there is some limited validity in the view, frequently expressed in interrogation primers, that the interrogation is essentially a battle of wits, the CI interrogator who encounters a skilled and resistant interrogatee should remember that a wide
*The interrogator should be supported whenever possible by qualified analysts' review of his daily "take"; experience has shown that such a review will raise questions to be put and points to be clarified and lead to a thorough coverage of the subject in hand.
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variety of aids can be made available in the field or from Headquarters. (These are discussed in Part VIII.) The intensely personal nature of the interrogation situation makes it all the more necessary that the KUBARK questioner should aim not for a personal triumph but for his true goal -- the acquisition of all needed information by any authorized means.
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