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FM 34-52: Intelligence Interrogation

Appendix H



The direct approach is the questioning of a source without having to use any type of approach. The direct approach is often called no approach at all, but it is the most effective of all the approaches. Statistics tell us that in World War II, it was 85 percent to 95 percent effective. In Vietnam, it was 90 percent to 95 percent effective. The direct approach works best on lower enlisted personnel as they have little or no resistance training and have had minimal security training. Due to its effectiveness, the direct approach is always to be tried first. The direct approach usually achieves the maximum cooperation in the minimum amount of time and enables the interrogator to quickly and completely exploit the source for the information he possesses. The advantages of this technique are its simplicity and the fact that it takes little time. For this reason, it is frequently used at the tactical echelons where time is limited.


The incentive approach is a method of rewarding the source for his cooperation, but it must reinforce positive behavior. This is done by satisfying the source's needs. Granting incentives to an uncooperative source leads him to believe that rewards can be gained whether he cooperates or not. Interrogators may not withhold a source's rights under the Geneva Conventions, but they can withhold a source's privileges. The granting of incentives must not infringe on the Geneva Conventions, but they can be things to which the source is already entitled to. This can be effective only if the source is unaware of his rights or privileges.

Incentives must seem to be logical and possible. An interrogator must not promise anything that cannot be delivered. Interrogators do not make promises, but usually infer them while still sidestepping guarantees. If an interrogator made a promise that he could not keep and he or another interrogator had to talk with the source again, the source would not have any trust and would most probably not cooperate. Instead of promising unequivocably that a source will receive a certain thing, such as political asylum, an interrogator will offer to do what he can to help achieve the source's desired goal; as long as the source cooperates.

The incentive approach can be broken down into the incentive short term (received immediately) and incentive long term (received within a period of time). The determination rests on when the source expects to receive the incentive offered.


The emotional approach overrides the source's rationale for resisting by using and manipulating his emotions against him. The main emotions of any source at the time of capture might be either love or fear. Love or fear for one person may be exploited or turned into hate for someone else. For example, the person who caused the source to be in the position in which he now finds himself. The source's fear can be built upon, or increased so as to override his rational side. If the situation demands it and the source's fear is so great that he cannot communicate with the interrogator,, the interrogator may find that he has to decrease the source's fear in order to effectively collect information from him. There are two variations of the emotional approaches: Emotional love, emotional hate.


For the emotional love approach to be successful, the interrogator must focus on the anxiety felt by the source about the circumstances in which he finds himself. The interrogator must direct the love the source feels toward the appropriate object: family, homeland, comrades, and so forth. If the interrogator can show the source what the source himself can do to alter or improve his situation, the approach has a chance of success. This approach usually involves some incentive; such as communication with the source's family, a quicker end to the war to save his comrades' lives, and so forth. A good interrogator will usually orchestrate some futility with an emotional love approach to hasten the source's reaching the breaking point. Sincerity and conviction are extremely important in a successful attempt at an emotional love approach as the interrogator must show genuine concern for the source and for the object to which the interrogator is directing the source's emotion. If the interrogator ascertains that the source has great love for his unit and fellow soldiers, he can effectively exploit the situations by explaining to the source that his providing information may shorten the war or battle in progress, thus saving many of his comrades' lives. But, his. refusal to talk may cause their deaths. This places a burden on the source and may motivate him to seek relief through cooperation with the interrogator.


The emotional hate approach focuses on any genuine hate, or possibly a desire for revenge, the source may feel. The interrogator must correctly pick up on exactly what it is that the source may hate so that the emotion can be exploited to override the source's rational side. The source may have negative feelings about his country's regime, his immediate superiors, officers in general, or his fellow soldiers. This approach is usually most effective on a member of racial or religious minorities who has suffered discrimination in both service and civilian life. If a source feels that he has been treated unfairly in his unit, the interrogator can point out that if the source cooperates and divulges the location of that unit, the unit can be destroyed, thus affording the source an opportunity for revenge. By using a conspiratorial tone of voice, the interrogator can enhance the value of this technique. Phrases, such as "You owe them no loyalty for the way they have treated you," when used appropriately, can expedite the success of this technique.

One word of caution, do not immediately begin to berate a certain facet of the source's background or life until your assessment indicates that the source feels a negative emotion toward it. The emotional hate approach can be much more effectively used by drawing out the source's negative emotions with questions that elicit a thought-provoking response. For example, "Why do you think they allowed you to be captured?" or "Why do you think they left you to die?" Do not berate the source's farces or homeland unless you are certain of his negative emotions. Many sources may have great love for their country, but still may hate the regime in control. The emotional hate approach is most effective with the immature or timid source who may have no opportunity up to this point for revenge, or never had the courage to voice his feelings.


The increased fear up approach is most effective on the younger and more inexperienced source or on a source who appears nervous or frightened. It is also effective on a source who appears to be the silent, confident type. Sources with something to hide, such as the commission of a war crime, or having surrendered while still having ammunition in his weapon, or breaking his military oath are particularly easy to break with this technique. There are two distinct variations of this approach: the fear up (harsh) and the fear up (mild).


In the fear up (harsh) approach, the interrogator behaves in a heavy, overpowering manner with a loud and threatening voice. The interrogator may even feel the need to throw objects across the room to heighten the source's implanted feelings of fear. Great care must be taken when doing this so that any actions taken would not violate the Geneva Conventions. This technique is to convince the source that he does indeed have something to fear and that he has no option but to cooperate. A good interrogator will implant in the source's mind that the interrogator himself is not the object to be feared, but is a possible way out of the trap. The fear can be directed toward reprisals by international tribunals, the government of the host country, or the source's own forces. Shouting can be very effective in this variation of the fear up approach.


The fear up (mild) approach is better suited to the strong, confident type of interrogator as there is generally no need to raise the voice or resort to heavy-handed, table banging violence. It is a more correct form of blackmail when the circumstances indicate that the source does indeed have something to fear. It may be a result of coincidence; the soldier was caught on the wrong side of the border before hostilities actually commenced (he was armed, he could be a terrorist), or a result of his actions (he surrendered contrary to his military oath and is now a traitor to his country, and his own forces will take care of the disciplinary action). The fear up (mild) approach must be a credible distortion of the truth. A distortion that the source will believe. It usually involves some incentive; the interrogator can intimate that he might be willing to alter the circumstances of the source's capture, as long as the source cooperates and answers the questions.

In most cases, shouting is not necessary. The actual fear is increased by helping the source to realize the unpleasant consequences that the facts may cause and then presenting an alternative, which of course can be effected by answering some simple questions. The fear up approach is deadend, and a wise interrogator may want to keep it in reserve as a trump card. After working to increase the source's fear, it would be difficult to convince him that everything will be all right if the approach is not successful.


The decreased fear down approach is used primarily on a source who is already in a state of fear due to the horrible circumstances of his capture, or on a source who is in fear for his life. This technique is really nothing more than calming the source and convincing him that he will be properly and humanely treated, or that for him the war is mercifully over and he need not go into combat again. When used with a soothing, calm tone of voice, this often creates rapport and usually nothing else is needed to get the source to cooperate. While calming the source, it is a good idea to stay initially with nonpertinent conversation and to carefully avoid the subject which has caused the source's fear. This works quickly in developing rapport and communication as the source will readily respond to kindness.

When using this approach, it is important that the interrogator meets the source at the source's perspective level and not expect the source to come up to the interrogator's perspective level. If a prisoner is so frightened that he has withdrawn into a shell or regressed back to a less threatening state of mind, the interrogator must break through to him. This may be effected by the interrogator putting himself on the same physical level as the source and may require some physical contact. As the source relaxes somewhat and begins to respond to the interrogator's kindness, the interrogator can then begin asking pertinent questions.

This approach technique may backfire if allowed to go too far. After convincing the source that he has nothing to fear, he may cease to be afraid and may feel secure enough to resist the interrogator's pertinent questions. If this occurs, reverting to a harsher approach technique usually will rapidly bring the desired result to the interrogator.


The pride and ego approach concentrates on tricking the source into revealing pertinent information by using flattery or abuse. It is effective with a source who has displayed weaknesses or feelings of inferiority which can be effectively exploited by the interrogator. There are two techniques in this approach: the pride and ego up approach and the pride and ego down approach.

A problem with the pride and ego approach techniques is that since both variations rely on trickery, the source will eventually realize that he has been tricked and may refuse to cooperate further. If this occurs, the interrogator can easily move into a fear up approach and convince the source that the questions he has already answered have committed him, and it would be useless to resist further. The interrogator can mention that it will be reported to the source's forces that he has cooperated fully with the enemy, and he or his family may suffer possible retribution when this becomes known, and the source has much to fear if he is returned to his forces. This may even offer the interrogator the option to go into a love-of-family approach in that the source must protect his family by preventing his forces from learning of his duplicity or collaboration. Telling the source that you will not report the fact that the prisoner talked or that he was a severe discipline problem is an incentive that may enhance the effectiveness of the approach.


The pride and ego up approach is most effective on sources with little or no intelligence or on those who have been looked down upon for a long time. It is very effective on low ranking enlisted personnel and junior grade officers as it allows the source to finally show someone that he does indeed have some "brains." The source is constantly flattered into providing certain information in order to gain credit. The interrogator must take care to use a flattering somewhat-in-awe tone of voice and to speak highly of the source throughout the duration of this approach. This quickly engenders positive feelings on the source's part as he has probably been looking for this type of recognition all his life. The interrogator may blow things out of proportion using items from the source's background and making them seen noteworthy or important. As everyone is eager to hear themselves praised, the source will eventually "rise to the occasion" and in an attempt to solicit more laundatory comments from the interrogator, reveal pertinent information.

Effective targets for a successful pride and ego up approach are usually the socially accepted reasons for flattery: appearance, good military bearing, and so forth. The interrogator should closely watch the source's demeanor for indications that the approach is getting through to him. Such indications include, but are not limited to, a raising of the head, a look of pride in the eyes, a swelling of the chest, or a stiffening of the back.


The pride and ego down approach is based on the interrogator attacking the source's sense of personal worth. Any source who shows any real or imagined inferiority or weakness about himself, his loyalty to his organization, or his capture in embarrassing circumstances can be easily broken with this approach technique. The objective is for the interrogator to pounce on the source's sense of pride by attacking his loyalty, intelligence, abilities, leadership qualities, slovenly appearance, or any other perceived weakness. This will usually goad the source into becoming defensive, and he will try to convince the interrogator that he is wrong. In his attempt to redeem his pride, the source will usually involuntarily provide pertinent information in attempting to vindicate himself. The source who is susceptible to this approach is also prone to make excuses and give reasons why he did or did not do a certain thing, often shifting the blame to others. Possible targets for the pride and ego down approach are the source's loyalty, technical competence, leadership abilities, soldierly qualities, or appearance. If the interrogator uses a sarcastic, caustic tone of voice with appropriate expressions of distaste or disgust, the source will readily believe him.

One word of caution, the pride and ego down approach is also a dead end in that, if it is unsuccessful, it is very difficult for the interrogator to recover and move to another approach and reestablish a different type of rapport without losing all credibility.


The futility approach is used to make the source believe that it is useless to resist and to persuade him to cooperate with the interrogator. The futility approach is most effective when the interrogator can play on doubts that already exist in the source's mind. There are really many different variations of the futility approach. There is the futility of the personal situation "you are not finished here until you answer the questions," futility in that "everyone talks sooner or later," futility of the battlefield situation, and futility in the sense that if the source does not mind talking about history, why should he mind talking about his missions, they are also history.

If the source's unit had run out of supplies (ammunition, food, fuel, and so forth), it would be relatively easy to convince him that all of his forces are having the same logistical problems. A soldier who has been ambushed may have doubts as to how he was attacked so suddenly and the interrogator should be able to easily talk him into believing that the NATO forces knew where he was all the time.

The interrogator might describe the source's frightening recollections of seeing death on the battlefield as an everyday occurrence for his forces all up and down the lines. Factual or seemingly factual information must be presented by the interrogator in a persuasive, logical manner and in a matter-of-fact tone of voice.

Making the situation appear hopeless allows the source to rationalize his actions, especially if that action is cooperating with the interrogator. When employing this technique, the interrogator must not only be fortified with factual information, but he should also be aware of, and be able to exploit, the source's psychological, moral, and sociological weaknesses.

Another way of using the futility approach is to blow things out of proportion. If the source's unit was low on, or had exhausted, all food supplies, he can be easily led to believe that all of his forces had run out of food. If the source is hinging on cooperating, it may aid the interrogation effort if he is told that all the other source's have already cooperated. A source who may want to help save his comrades' lives may need to be convinced that the situation on the battlefield is hopeless, and that they all will die without his assistance. The futility approach is used to paint a black picture for the prisoner, but it is not effective in and of itself in gaining the source's cooperation. The futility approach must be orchestrated with other approach techniques.


The "we know all" approach convinces the source that we already know everything. It is a very successful approach for sources who are naive, in a state of shock, or in a state of fear. The interrogator must organize all available data on the source including background information, knowledge about the source's immediate tactical situation, and all available OB information on the source's unit. Upon initial contact with the source, the interrogator asks questions, pertinent and nonpertinent, from his specially prepared list. When the source hesitates, refuses to answer, provides an incomplete response, or an incorrect response, the interrogator himself supplies the detailed answer. Through the careful use of the limited number of known details, the interrogator must convince the source that all information is already known; therefore, his answers are of no consequence. It is by repeating this procedure that the interrogator convinces the source that resistance is useless as everything is already known. When the source begins to give accurate and complete information to the questions to which the interrogator has the answers, the interrogator begins interjecting questions for which he does not have the answers. After gaining the source's cooperation, the interrogator still tests the extent of that cooperation by periodically using questions for which he has the answers. This is very necessary; if the interrogator does not challenge the source when he is lying, the source will then know that everything is not known, and that he has been tricked. He may then provide incorrect answers to the interrogator's questions.

There are some inherent problems with the use of the "we know all" approach. The interrogator is required to prepare everything in detail which is very time consuming. He must commit much of the information to memory as working from notes may show the limits of the information actually known.


The "establish your identity" approach was very effective in Viet Nam with the Viet Cong, and it can be used at tactical echelons. The interrogator must be aware, however, that if used in conjunction with the file and dossier approach, it may exceed the tactical interrogator's preparation resources. In this technique, the interrogator insists that the source has been identified as an infamous criminal wanted by higher authorities on very serious charges, and he has finally been caught posing as someone else. In order to clear himself of these allegations, the source will usually have to supply detailed information on his unit to establish or substantiate his true identity. The interrogator should initially refuse to believe the source and insist that he is the criminal wanted by the ambiguous "higher authorities." This will force the source to give even more detailed information about his unit in order to convince the interrogator that he is indeed who he says he is. This approach works well when combined with the futility or "we know all" approach.


Repetition is used to induce cooperation from a hostile source. In one variation of this technique the interrogator listens carefully to a source's answer to a question, and then repeats both the question and answer several times. He does this with each succeeding question until the source becomes so thoroughly bored with the procedure that he answers questions fully and candidly to satisfy the interrogator and to gain relief from the monotony of his method of questioning. The repetition technique must be used carefully, as it will generally not work when employed against introverted sources or those having great self-control. In fact, it may provide an opportunity for a source to regain his composure and delay the interrogation. In employing this technique, the use of more than one interrogator or a tape recorder has proven to be effective.


The file and dossier approach is when the interrogator prepares a dossier containing all available information obtained from records and documents concerning the source or his organization. Careful arrangement of the material within the file may give the illusion that it contains more data than what is actually there. The ale may be padded with extra paper, if necessary. Index tabs with titles such as education, employment, criminal record, military service, and others are particularly effective. The interrogator confronts the source with the dossiers at the beginning of the interrogation and explains to,him that intelligence has provided a complete record of every significant happening in the source's life; therefore, it would be useless to resist interrogation. The interrogator may read a few selected bits of known data to further impress the source. If the technique is successful, the source will be impressed with the voluminous file, conclude that everything is known, and resign himself to complete cooperation during the interrogation. The success of this technique is largely dependent on the naivete of the source, the volume of data on the subject, and the skill of the interrogator in convincing the source.


The "Mutt and Jeff" ("friend and foe") approach involves a psychological ploy which takes advantage of the natural uncertainty and guilt which a source has as a result of being detained and questioned. Use of this technique necessitates the employment of two experienced interrogators who are convincing actors. Basically, the two interrogators will display opposing personalities and attitudes toward the source. For example, the first interrogator is very formal and displays an unsympathetic attitude toward the source. He might be strict and order the source to follow all military courtesies during questioning. The goal of the technique is to make the source feel cut off from his friends.

At the time the source acts hopeless and alone, the second interrogator appears (having received his cue by a hidden signal or by listening and observing out of view of the source), scolds the first interrogator for his harsh behavior, and orders him from the room. He then apologizes to soothe the source, perhaps offering him coffee and a cigarette. He explains that the actions of the first interrogator were largely the result of an inferior intellect and lack of human sensitivity. The inference is created that the second interrogator and the source have, in common, a high degree of intelligence and an awareness of human sensitivity above and beyond that of the first interrogator.

The source is normally inclined to have a feeling of gratitude toward the second interrogator, who continues to show a sympathetic attitude toward the source in an effort to increase the rapport and control the questioning which will follow. Should the source's cooperation begin to fade, the second interrogator can hint that since he is of high rank, having many other duties, he cannot afford to waste time on an uncooperative source. He may broadly infer that the first interrogator might return to continue his questioning. When used against the proper source, this trick will normally gain the source's complete cooperation.


The rapid fire approach involves a psychological ploy based upon the principles that everyone likes to be heard when he speaks, and it is confusing to be interrupted in midsentence with an unrelated question. This technique may be used by an individual interrogator or simultaneously by two or more interrogators in questioning the same source. In employing this technique the interrogator asks a series of questions in such a manner that the source does not have time to answer a question completely before the next question is asked. This tends to confuse the source, and he is apt to contradict himself, as he has little time to prepare his answers. The interrogator then confronts the source with the inconsistencies, causing further contradictions. In many instances, the source will begin to talk freely in an attempt to explain himself and deny the inconsistencies pointed out by the interrogator. In attempting to explain his answers, the source is likely to reveal more than he intends, thus creating additional leads for further interrogation.

The interrogator must have all his questions prepared before approaching the source, because long pauses between questions allow the source to complete his answers and render this approach ineffective. Besides extensive preparation, this technique requires an experienced, competent interrogator, who has comprehensive knowledge of .his case, and fluency in the language of the source. This technique is most effective immediately after capture, because of the confused state of the source.


The silence approach may be successful when employed against either the nervous or the confident-type source. When employing this technique, the interrogator says nothing to the source, but looks him squarely in the eye, preferably with a slight smile on his face. It is important not to look away from the source, but force him to break eye contact first. The source will become nervous, begin to shift around in his chair, cross and recross his legs, and look away. He may ask questions, but the interrogator should not answer until he is ready to break the silence. The source may blurt out questions such as, "Come on now, what do you want with me?" When the interrogator is ready to break the silence, he may do so with some nonchalant question such as, "You planned this operation a long time, didn't you? Was it your idea?" The interrogator must be patient when employing this technique. It may appear for a while that the technique is not succeeding, but it usually will when given a reasonable chance.

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