For other meanings of this and similar words (words starting "Interrog...") see Interrogation (disambiguation).
A police interrogation room in Switzerland.

Interrogation (also called questioning or interpellation) is interviewing as commonly employed by officers of the police, military, and Intelligence agencies with the goal of extracting a confession or obtaining information. Subjects of interrogation are often the suspects, victims, or witnesses of a crime. Interrogation may involve a diverse array of techniques, ranging from developing a rapport with the subject to outright torture.


Interrogation techniques

There are multiple techniques employed in interrogation including deception, torture, increasing suggestibility, and the use of mind-altering drugs.


A person's suggestibility is how willing they are to accept and act on suggestions by others. Interrogators seek to increase a subject's suggestibility. Methods used to increase suggestibility may include moderate sleep deprivation, exposure to constant white noise, and using GABAergic drugs such as sodium amytal or sodium thiopental.


Deception can form an important part of effective interrogation. In the United States, there is no law or regulation that forbids the interrogator from lying about the strength of their case, from making misleading statements or from implying that the interviewee has already been implicated in the crime by someone else.[1]

As noted above, traditionally the issue of deception is considered from the perspective of the interrogator engaging in deception towards the individual being interrogated. Recently, work completed regarding effective interview methods used to gather information from individuals who score in the medium to high range on measures of psychopathology and are engaged in deception directed towards the interrogator have appeared in the literature [2] [3] The importance of allowing the psychopathic interviewee to tell one lie after another and not confront until all of the lies have been presented is essential when the goal is to use the interview to expose the improbable statements made during the interview in future court proceedings.

Good cop/bad cop

Pride-and-ego down

Reid technique

The Reid technique is a trademarked interrogation technique widely used by law enforcement agencies in North America. The technique (which requires interrogators to watch the body language of suspects to detect deceit) has been criticized for being difficult to apply across cultures and eliciting false confessions from innocent people.[4]


Interrogations may involve torture. When torture is employed in interrogation, the first thing the interrogator typically does is to speculate on the type of information s/he would like to extract from the subject. This assists the interrogator in creating a benchmark that the subject must meet in order to end the painful or uncomfortable conditions that occur in torture.

The process of using torture to extract this targeted information may have three possible outcomes. The first is that the subject knows nothing and provides made-up information or a false confession in order to cause the torture to stop; the second is that the subject has the information that the interrogator seeks but is able to "hold out" or divert the interrogators attention with false information (which can be misconstrued for the previous outcome mentioned); and the third is that the subject capitulates under torture and offers the interrogator truthful information. Interrogation has yielded all three results. However, much controversy surrounds the process of torture because of both its human rights implications and the fact that it remains possible that an innocent person can be tortured. When the subject of torture doesn't actually have information or is innocent, the subject may provide a false confession. If not, that individual must bear with the procedures with the knowledge that s/he cannot stop it. Many human rights organizations and political figures have spotlighted these facts. They have pointed out that torture carries the possibility of being ineffective in extracting accurate information. However, this is true of all interrogation techniques.

The debate over these advantages and disadvantages of torture continues to this day. Nonetheless, clarity has been made in the torture debate over the differences between instances of torture that are used in different contexts. To this end, Richard Posner, a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, has argued, "If torture is the only means of obtaining the information necessary to prevent the detonation of a nuclear bomb in Times Square, torture should be used—and will be used—to obtain the information. ... no one who doubts that this is the case should be in a position of responsibility."[5][6]

Interrogation around the world

United Kingdom

British legislation that applies to interrogation activities include:

All police officers are trained in interview techniques during basic training, further training in detailed interviewing or specialist interviewing is received in specialist or advanced courses, such as criminal investigation, fraud investigation or child protection.

Military interrogation takes two forms, Tactical Questioning or Detailed Interviewing. Tactical Questioning is the initial screening of detainees, Detailed Interviewing takes place is the more advanced questioning of subjects.

Training for all personnel engaged in both TQ and DI takes place at the Defence Intelligence and Security Centre, Chicksands.

British military personnel were found to have misused a number of techniques during the detention of suspects in Northern Ireland in the early 1970s. Investigations into these techniques resulted in the publication of policy directives that prohibited the use of hooding, stress positions or wall-standing, noise, sleep deprivation and deprivation of food and drink.

During the early stages of Operation Telic in Iraq during 2003 and 2004 some infantry units have been found to have applied these techniques in contravention of standing orders.

The use of torture is explicitly prohibited however Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have accused officers of the British Intelligence and Security Services of being at least complicit in the extraction of information from subjects under torture by second parties.


Cold War

War On Terror

Torture has never been authorized or permitted for use at Guantanamo Bay or any other U.S. Department of Defense detention/internment/prisoner of war facility on any person be they an enemy prisoner of war, detainee, retainee, protected person, lawful or unlawful enemy combatant though there have been people who have reported being tortured at Guantanamo Bay. Several interrogation techniques used at Guantanamo Bay were specifically defined by the Bush administration as "not torture", though most international observers and historical precedent disagree. These techniques include waterboarding, a drowning simulation.

Torture, in this context, is a war crime. Specifically, a grave violation of the Law of Land Warfare. War Crimes are punishable under U.S. Code as well as the U.S. Code of Military Justice. There is no statute of limitations for War Crimes. Instances of criminal behavior by military, civilian, and contract personnel of the U.S. Department of Defense has happened and has happened with regard to Geneva Category prisoners and detainees. Criminal behavior in this context may range from mishandling to abuse to torture. Military Commanders investigate rigorously any accusation of prisoner mishandling, abuse, or torture. The military continues to vigorously prosecute any such unlawful activity.

Army regulations and policy have always been clear, the torture or coercion of an enemy prisoner of war during interrogation, or in any other circumstance, is not only unlawful but also an unproductive and unreliable method for gaining information. In addition, US Army interrogation procedures continue to stress that all detained or captured persons will be treated as Geneva Category Enemy Prisoners of War until determined otherwise by a duly constituted military tribunal.

U.S. Air Force General Jack L. Rives (Deputy Judge Advocate General) advised a U.S. government task force that many of the extreme methods of interrogation would leave service personnel open to legal sanction in the U.S. and foreign countries.

Nazi Germany



Resistance training

Resistance training is often a prerequisite for some military personnel since prisoners of war (POWs) routinely undergo interrogation.

Movement for increased recording of interrogations in the US

Currently, there is a movement for mandatory electronic recording of all custodial interrogations in the United States.[7] "Electronic recording" describes the process of recording interrogations from start to finish. This is in contrast to a "taped" or "recorded confession," which typically only includes the final statement of the suspect. "Taped interrogation" is the traditional term for this process; however, as analog is becoming less and less common, statutes and scholars are referring to the process as "electronically recording" interviews or interrogations. Alaska,[8] Illinois,[9] Maine,[10] Minnesota,[8] and Wisconsin[11] are the only states to require taped interrogation. New Jersey’s taping requirement started on January 1, 2006.[8][12] Massachusetts allows jury instructions that state that the courts prefer taped interrogations.[13] Commander Neil Nelson of the St. Paul Police Department, an expert in taped interrogation,[14] has described taped interrogation in Minnesota as the "best thing ever rammed down our throats."[15]

See also


  1. ^ J. D. Obenberger (October 1998) Police Deception: The Law and the Skin Trade in the Windy City
  2. ^ Perri, Frank S. and Lichtenwald, Terrance G. (2008). The Arrogant Chameleons: Exposing Fraud Detection Homicide Forensic Examiner, 26–33.
  3. ^ Perri, Frank S. and Lichtenwald, Terrance G. (2010). “The Last Frontier: Myths & The Female Psychopathic Killer.” Forensic Examiner, 19:2, 50–67.
  4. ^ Kassin, Saul and Christina Fong: "'I'm Innocent!': Effects of Training on Judgments of Truth and Deception in the Interrogation room", Law and Human Behavior, Vol. 23 No. 5, 1999, page 499-516.
  5. ^ Slackman, Michael (16 May 2004). "What's Wrong With Torturing a Qaeda Higher-Up?". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 November 2009. [dead link]
  6. ^ Hensher, Philip (26 June 2007). "Hollywood is helping us learn to love torture". The Independent. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  7. ^ New Jersey Courts. Retrieved on 2011-03-04.
  8. ^ a b c Electronic Recording of Interrogations, Center for Policy Alternatives
  9. ^[dead link]
  10. ^[dead link]
  11. ^[dead link]
  12. ^ New Rule 3:17 – Electronic Recordation. Retrieved on 2011-03-04.
  13. ^ See Commonwealth v. DiGiambattista, 813 N.E.2d 516, 533–34 (Mass. 2004).
  14. ^ Neil Nelson & Associates Home Page. Retrieved on 2011-03-04.
  15. ^ FBI's policy drawing fire. (2005-12-06). Retrieved on 2011-03-04.

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • interrogation — [ ɛ̃terɔgasjɔ̃ ] n. f. • XIIIe; lat. interrogatio 1 ♦ Action de questionner, d interroger (qqn). ⇒ demande, question. « chez Blondet une pause équivalait à une interrogation » (Balzac). L interrogation des témoins. ♢ Spécialt Question, ensemble… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • interrogation — I noun careen izati on, cross examination, examination, exploration, formal questioning, grilling, inquest, inquiry, inquisition, inspection, interrogate, investigation, percontatio, probe, quaestio, query, questioning, scrutiny, search, taking… …   Law dictionary

  • Interrogation — In*ter ro*ga tion, n. [L. interrogatio: cf. F. interrogation.] [1913 Webster] 1. The act or process of interrogating or questioning; examination by questions; an instance of interrogating; inquiry. [1913 Webster] 2. A question put; an inquiry.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • interrogation — [in ter΄ə gā′shən] n. [ME interrogacion < MFr interrogation < L interrogatio] 1. an interrogating or being interrogated; examination 2. a question [Now Rare] 3. short for INTERROGATION MARK …   English World dictionary

  • interrogation — (n.) late 14c., a questioning; a set of questions, from O.Fr. interrogacion (13c.) or directly from L. interrogationem (nom. interrogatio) a question, questioning, interrogation, noun of action from pp. stem of interrogare to ask, question,… …   Etymology dictionary

  • interrogation — Interrogation. s. f. v. Question, demande qu on fait à quelqu un pour sçavoir quelque chose de luy. Il a bien respondu aux interrogations qu on luy a faites. Il signifie aussi, Une figure de Rhetorique par laquelle on interroge. Il commença son… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • Interrogation — (v. lat.), Frage, Befragung …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Interrogation — (lat.), Frage, Befragung; interrogatīv, fragend, fragweise; Interrogatīvum, fragendes, Fürwort, interrogieren, fragen …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Interrogation — Interrogation, lat. deutsch, Frage; interrogativ, frageweise; Interrogatorien, bei gerichtl. Verhandlungen Gegenfragen; interrogiren, Gegenfragen anfertigen und beibringen …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • interrogation — Interrogation, Rogatio, Interrogatio, Percontatio. Courtes et petites interrogations, Angustae interrogatiunculae. Escrire les interrogations et confessions faites par quelqu un pendant qu il est sur la geine, Quaestionem conscribere …   Thresor de la langue françoyse

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