Don’t ask, don’t shout


Our military and CIA aren’t the only ones having their hands tied and being kept on a tighter leash when it comes to the business of interrogation:

British soldiers have “lost their capability” to interrogate terrorist insurgents because of strict new rules on questioning that even ban shouting in captives’ ears, military chiefs have warned.

The rules — detailed in court papers obtained by The Telegraph — also prevent military intelligence officers from banging their fists on tables or walls, or using “insulting words” when interrogating a suspect.

The regulations replaced a previous policy that had to be withdrawn after a series of legal challenges and the death in custody of Baha Mousa, an Iraqi detainee in Basra.

But there is growing disquiet within the ranks that the latest guidelines, officially called Challenge Direct, are so stringent that it makes interrogation pointless.

There is also concern that the rules can be so easily breached — especially given the pressure under which soldiers are operating — that military personnel will be left exposed to legal claims and possible disciplinary action.


Col Tim Collins, who made a celebrated eve-of-battle speech during the Iraq war and now runs a private security company with expertise in intelligence gathering, said: “Since I was serving, the rules on interrogations have been tightened up because of the lawyers. We [the military] are no longer able to carry out tactical questioning.

“The effect of the ambulance-chasing lawyers and the play-it-safe judges is that we have got to the point where we have lost our operational capability to do tactical questioning. That in itself brings risks to the lives of the people we deploy.

“These insurgents are not nice people. These are criminals. They behead people; they keep sex slaves. They are not normal people.”

Lord West, the former First Sea Lord and national security adviser, said: “We have gone too far in letting people take us to court.

“While these insurgents are chopping people’s heads off and raping women, the idea they can take us to court because somebody shouted at them is ridiculous.”

It isn’t just the CIA EITs that are being attacked by the PC-ridden (Just ask any human rights group- they know that some of the techniques the CIA is being criticized for, like sleep deprivation and isolation- were approved of in the old Army Field Manual 34-52; the current one- FM 2-22.3 – is more restrictive, but doesn’t go far enough for groups like Amnesty International). Ali Soufan, himself lauded as the annointed saint of good boy interrogation practices- used coercive techniques on Qahtani (isolation and threat). A DOJ inspector general’s report rebuke’s Soufan for violating FBI procedures in the treatment of al-Qahtani.

For bleeding heart liberals, just the mere act of incarceration (and especially given the possibility of incarcerating an innocent individual) can arise to a definition of “torture”; dressing up a detainee in an orange jump suit (as opposed to a detainee’s favorite color of choice) can be argued by a lawyer to constitute “inhumane and degrading treatment”. “Outrages upon personal dignity” and “humiliating and degrading treatment” (Article 3 of the GC).

The legality of the Challenge Direct interrogation technique was disputed by lawyers acting for Haidar Ali Hussein, an Iraqi civilian arrested in 2004 who alleged that during his detention he had been subjected “to substantial periods of shouting”. Mr Hussein was also claiming damages from the Ministry of Defence over alleged mistreatment.

Although Mr Hussein’s detention predated the new policy, his legal team had argued that Challenge Direct should be ruled unlawful because it constitutes “inhumane treatment” in contravention of the Geneva Convention.

The Court of Appeal threw out Mr Hussein’s challenge to the interrogation policy — but in doing so disclosed how the technique works and when it can be applied. It also highlighted a series of breaches.

The judgment handed down by Lord Justice Lloyd Jones, the Lord Justice of Appeal and one of the most senior judges in the country, discloses what appear to be enormous constraints under which interrogators must now operate.

One source said: “This ruling shows just what a nightmare it now is for interrogation teams. Interrogators have been left wondering if it’s worth the bother.”

The previous policy — known as “Harsh” — gave soldiers the right to “shout as loud as possible [with] uncontrolled fury” at a captive. It also permitted soldiers to show “psychotic tendencies”, and aim “personal abuse” at a captive who could be “taunted and goaded”.

The Challenge Direct technique reined in those excesses and allows shouting for only a few seconds at a time — the actual length is redacted for security reasons in the ruling — under strict regulation which is designed only to gain a captive’s attention.

The judgment discloses that under the new policy interrogation “must not be insulting” and that a “captured person’s attributes must not be ridiculed”. The policy adds that “the questioner must not touch the captured person” and “must not shout into the subject’s ear”.

I suppose when you belong to a religious group known for being emotionally thin-skinned, “shouting”, “insults” and verbal abuse, and anything else that may affect the psyche and cause emotional pain, distress, and discomfort. Allah-forbid that you should be shouted at and have your feelings hurt.

A few weeks prior to last Tuesday’s release of the partisan Majority Views executive summary report, a CIA interrogator for the first time had posted a 40-page (minus redactions) document that illuminates why he embraced the validity of EITs over the rapport-building methods in regards to hardened religious extremists and for those who had received training to resist standard interrogation practices.

I learned a lot at SERE, both as a student and as a temporary-duty interrogator. As a student, I learned that I could resist, and occasionally manipulate, a talented interrogator during my numerous“soft-sell” interrogations– the rapport-building, we-know-all, pride-and-ego up/down, do-the-right-thing approaches. I had my story relatively straight, and I simply stuck to it, regardless of how ridiculous or implausible the interrogator made it sound. He wasn’t doing anything to me– there was no consequence to my lies, no matter how transparent.

I then learned the difference between “soft-sell” and “hard-sell” by way of a large interrogator who applied enhanced techniques promptly upon the uttering of my first lie. I learned that it was infinitely more difficult for me to remember my lies and keep my story straight under pressure. I learned that it became difficult to repeat a lie if I received immediate and uncomfortable consequences for each iteration. It made me have to make snap decisions under intense pressure in real time – and fumble and stumble through rapid-fire follow-up questions designed to poke massive holes in my story.

I learned that I needed to practically live my lie if I were to be questioned under duress, as the unrehearsed details are the wild-cards that bite you in the ass. I learned that I would rather sit across from the most talented interrogator on earth doing a soft-sell than any interrogator on earth doing a hard-sell – the information I had would be safer because the only consequences to my lies come in the form of words. I could handle words. Anyone could.

Ask any SERE Level C graduate which method was more effective on him or her – their answer should tell you something about the effectiveness of enhanced techniques,whether you agree with them or not. In my case, I learned that enhanced techniques made me want to tell the truth to make it stop – not to compound my situation with more lies. The only thing that kept me from telling the truth was the knowledge that at some point it had to end – that there were more students to interrogate and only so many hours in a day. Absent that knowledge, I would have caved. That said, I was not very proud of the mistakes I made which brought me to the brink of caving. I realized that those mistakes, in a real-world situation, would have opened a number of doors I would have prefered remain shut.

As a TDY interrogator in the SERE course, I learned that the toughest, meanest, most professional special operations soldiers on earth had a “breaking” point. Every one of them. And of all the soldiers I interrogated, all of the significant “breaks” came during hard-sell interrogations – using as many enhanced techniques as necessary to convince the soldier that continuing to lie would result in immediate consequences. It worked – time and again, it worked.

I did have some success during the “soft-cell” interrogations, but those came only as a result of tricks, ruses, or lies – I was able to gain some short-term advantage as a result of these tactics, but by doing so had burned any credibility I may have had with that particular subject. Consequently, other than my initial breakthrough, my clever manipulation had effectively poisoned any subsequent engagement with the subject. The lesson I learned was that whatever I hoped to gain from “leading with a lie”, it had better include the mother lode, because I wasn’t likely to get another realistic shot at it after pulling the rug out from under the subject.

On an aside, here is Jose Rodriguez this morning with Chris Wallace:


I believe Dick Cheney and others are also making their Sunday morning news show rounds.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

We are simply going to have to have another horrific terror attack to refocus our attention of the fight against terror. The left will have it no other way.

Sadly Bill#1 I agree with you. How can people forget what happened 13 years ago?

How can a “person” (being generous here) who wants to kill Americans be tortured?

So we’ve gone from “We cannot torture” (which, by the way, has always been the case) to “We cannot offend”?
We are guaranteed to lose. There is so much that I want to say, but it all boils down to:
“We are guaranteed to lose”.

Who the f are you to criticize the US military ??
They know what is best not you
They know what is most effective
They know what works best and has been proven best
We didn’t have yo tirture in WW II to get info
If you torture you do get info but it is not accurate of actionable
You want a confession. Sure torture is great
That is one reason USA police are no longer allowed. 3rd degree questioning
You want people confessing to things they do not know about?
You want people confessing to DUI which kills many mire than “terrorism”.
Sure oh ahead and water board them till they turn blue like in the Senate report
You want to make Reagan a liar for promising never to torture?